Government Accountability Office Recommends Updating Federal Privacy Laws

The Government Accountability Office issued a report finding that technological changes since the passage of the Privacy Act in 1974 require changing the law in order to adequately protect the privacy and security of personal information. Specifically, the report recommended applying Privacy Act protections to all federal collection of information, strengthening limitations on the use of information, and establishing more effective methods of notifying the public about data collection practices. Recently, EPIC recommended that the Privacy Act explicitly define “actual damages” to include provable mental and emotional distress. EPIC also pointed out that the proposed circumstances under which agencies can disclose personal information should be narrowly tailored, and that individuals should have sufficient warning of government security breaches affecting personal information. EPIC's letters follow a request from Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) for comment on S.1732, the Privacy Act Modernization for the Information Age Act of 2011. For more information, see EPIC: Privacy Act and EPIC: FAA v. Copper.

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