Akaka questions Privacy Act

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, called for the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to hold hearings to review the shortcomings of the Privacy Act of 1974 on Friday, a press release states.

In a letter to Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, and ranking member Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn, Akaka questioned whether the Privacy Act provides adequate protection for the personal information of American citizens.

The recent theft of the personal information of 26 million veterans “highlights the far larger issues facing the federal government in its efforts to safeguard the personal information of our citizens,” Akaka states in the letter. “The federal government, by necessity, collects and stores vast amounts of personal data. As this incident proves, the government must take much stronger measures to ensure that such major failures in maintaining personal information are not repeated.”

The Privacy Act was created in response to concerns about how the creation and use of computerized databases might impact individuals’ privacy rights. The Act requires government agencies to show people records kept about them, follow fair information practices when gathering and handling personal information and comply with restrictions about sharing personal information, the release states.

The act also provides citizens with the right to sue when government violates these provisions.

“Given that millions of citizens’ personal information has been put in jeopardy, I believe that now is the time to examine the shortcomings of the Privacy Act,” Akaka says. “Therefore, I respectfully request that the committee begin hearings on the Privacy Act with the goal of introducing legislation that will protect personal information in a meaningful way.”

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