Data Brokers Supplying Gov’t Don’t Consistently Protect Privacy of Citizen Info

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 4, 2006

Personal Information: Agencies and Resellers Vary in Providing Privacy Protections, Full-text GAO-06-609T, April 4, 2006. Highlights.

  • “In fiscal year 2005, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and State and the Social Security Administration reported that they used personal information obtained from resellers for a variety of purposes, including performing criminal investigations, locating witnesses and fugitives, researching assets held by individuals of interest, and detecting prescription drug fraud. The agencies spent approximately $30 million on contractual arrangements with resellers that enabled the acquisition and use of such information…The major information resellers that do business with the federal agencies GAO reviewed have practices in place to protect privacy, but these measures are not fully consistent with the Fair Information Practices.
  • Personal Information: Agency and Reseller Adherence to Key Privacy Principles, Full-text GAO-06-421, April 4, 2006. Highlights.

  • “…resellers generally limit the extent to which individuals can gain access to personal information held about themselves, as well as the extent to which inaccurate information contained in their databases can be corrected or deleted. Agency practices for handling personal information acquired from information resellers did not always fully reflect the Fair Information Practices. That is, some of these principles were mirrored in agency practices, but for others, agency practices were uneven. For example, although agencies issued public notices on information collections, these did not always notify the public that information resellers were among the sources to be used.”
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