Newstalgia Reference Room - The Right Of Privacy - 1975

Newstalgia Reference Room featuring a discussion as broadcast on NPR's National Town Meeting on the Freedom of Information Act and the Right Of Privacy Act with Congresswoman Bella Abzug from the Congressional Subcommittee on the Privacy Act, Sen. Barry Goldwater Jr. and Dr. Louis Branscomb, Vice-President of IBM.

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It's interesting to consider the Right Of Privacy Act was passed in 1974 (as of this broadcast in 1975, it had yet to be implemented) less than 40 years ago, and in that time has undergone changes, revisions and a little thing called Homeland Security, which no doubt gutted most of the bill's original intentions.

But in 1975 it was the subject of debate and discussion as part of the National Town Meeting program from NPR. The title of the program being "How Can The Right Of Privacy Be Better Protected?". Even in 1975 there were doubts.

The panel consisted of Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-New York), Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. (R-Calif) and vice-President of IBM Louis Branscomb.

Bella Abzug: “We’re dealing with a very serious subject today. We’ve got a lot of government collection of information, we’ve got a lot of private collection of information, and our problem is how can we protect the rights of individuals for information that has to be collected. Now, my subcommittee has jurisdiction in the House of Representatives over all aspects of the information policies and practices of every agency of the Federal Government. Part of our job is an oversight function to that the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, which was passed last year, is faithfully administered. Basically, my subcommittee deals with two major questions of importance to you and to all Americans; how can you find out what the government is doing and what it knows, that we do under the Freedom of Information Act. You have a right to ask questions of the government and get information that it has, you have the right to know. And how can you keep the government from finding out what you as an individual are doing when it’s none of the government’s business. That’s your right of Privacy.”

In light of evidence that the CIA had been accused of Domestic spying and corporate data banks were fairly bulging with personal data on millions of Americans, even in the 1970's, the fact that there was grave concern on the part of lawmakers to insure some shred of privacy was guaranteed to a nation's citizens should give some clear evidence this is not a recent problem, but one which has been around for a very long time.

Here is the complete National Town Meeting broadcast from NPR on May 21, 1975.

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