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Privacy Protection Study Commission, Personal Privacy in an Information Society (1997) (full-text).


The U.S. Privacy Protection Study Commission (PPSC) issued its final report in 1977. In the report, the PPSC concluded that, as transactions involving personal information have proliferated, there has been no compensating tendency to give the individual the kind of control over the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information that natural, or face-to-face, encounters normally entail. The PPSC found that if information privacy is to be protected, public policy must focus on certain systemic features such as the proliferating use of information for a different purpose than for what it was originally collected, and the greater use of third-party reporting.

The Report offered 162 recommendations. In general, the Commission urged the establishment of a permanent, independent entity within the federal government to monitor, investigate, evaluate, advise, and offer policy recommendations concerning personal privacy matters; better regulation of the use of mailing lists for commercial purposes; adherence to principles of fair information practice by employers; limited government access to personal records held by private sector recordkeepers through adherence to recognized legal processes; and improved privacy protection for educational records. The panel also recommended the adoption of legislation to apply principles of fair information practice, such as those found in the Privacy Act of 1974, to personal information collected and managed by the consumer credit, banking, insurance, and medical care sectors of the U.S. economy.

The Report concluded that the Privacy Act of 1974 "had not resulted in the general benefits to the public that either its legislative history or the prevailing opinion as to its accomplishments would lead one to expect. . . ."[1]


  1. Report, at 502.