CAGW Releases New Report on Privacy "Keeping Big Brother From Watching You" | Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW Releases New Report on Privacy "Keeping Big Brother From Watching You"

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact:  Sean Rushton or Melissa Naudin
May 14, 2001(202) 467-5300


Washington, D.C. – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today released a Through the Looking Glass investigative report on Internet privacy, “Keeping Big Brother From Watching You.”  The study concludes federal privacy regulations or legislation are unnecessary and that the private sector is more effective than government in this increasingly important area.

“With the advent of modern technology, many Americans have Orwellian fears and anxieties that the federal government is too large and has too much information and control over intimate aspects of their lives,” CAGW President Thomas A. Schatz said.  “They also have concerns over online transactions that require personal data.  As usual, Washington thinks it can help, with more than 40 bills introduced in this session of the 107th Congress alone.”

The average American has personal, financial, and work-related data in the federal government's databases that cover everything from Social Security information, to student loan records, to mortgage applications.  While it may be argued that sharing such information among federal agencies promotes efficiency, there is ample evidence that the federal government is incapable of sufficiently protecting the sensitive data it already collects.  “If the federal government has problems handling simple tasks such as processing tax returns with signatures or keeping track of password controls, as cited, it is hardly in a position to regulate privacy,” Schatz said.

On top of the government's technological ineptitude, the benefits of and need for legislation are not apparent.  In addition, the cost of compliance with congressional legislation, estimated in a recent American Enterprise Institute-Brookings joint study at $9 billion to $36 billion, would devastate the economically hard-pressed online business community.  The CAGW report cites numerous examples of how the private sector is already meeting the demands of consumers regarding privacy, including giving individuals the tools needed to control exactly how much of their personal information can be shared or used by Web site owners. 

“For the government to regulate the private sector while its own house is in disrepair, and without sufficient evidence that such action is absolutely necessary, would be costly to the economy and an enormous waste of taxpayer money,” Schatz concluded.

The report is available at:, under “What’s New?”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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