By Stephen Currie

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The Oklahoma 56 state government, for example, brings in about $13 million each year by selling Oklahomans’ private information, much of it stored in online databases listing motor vehicle owners and holders of driver’s licenses. According to an Oklahoma newspaper account, “Birth dates and other personal information flow freely on a daily basis [from the state] to insurance companies, employment screening services . . ”63 personal information Nor do government officials necessarflow freely on a daily basis [from Oklahoma ily take the time to ensure that the buyers government] to of the information are trustworthy.

In addition, there are situations in which it could be dangerous for a person’s photo to appear on the Internet. Consider the case of a woman who moves to a new city to escape an abusive husband. If he saw her picture on Google Street View, he would be better able to track her down—with potentially deadly consequences. To fix the problem, privacy advocates urged Google to take pictures down if the people in them could be identified. Google initially resisted these efforts, but soon agreed that the advocates had a point.

But as these actions indicate, each representative has serious concerns about allowing government easy access to information. Government and the Internet The rise of the Internet has only increased concerns about protecting privacy from government prying and abuse. One reason is the ease of accessing data that is stored online and in electronic form. Like businesses, governments once kept all their records in card files and ledger books. Even 50 or 60 years ago it was a major undertaking for the typical government office to locate, sort, and make use of its stored information.

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