"The Files": Legal Controls over the Accuracy and Accessibility of Stored Personal Data

Kenneth L. Karst
1966 Law & Contemporary Problems  
In our record-keeping civilization, 1 the man whose name is not inscribed on the tab of someone's manila folder simply does not exist. Each of us, from the day he is born, begins to deposit information about himself in various public and private files. By the time he emerges from school and the armed forces, the ordinary young adult cannot have escaped becoming the subject of at least a dozen personal information files. -Our increasing social interdependence assures an acceleration of the rate
more » ... t which personal data are accumulated and stored. An impressively detailed profile of any individual can be drawn from files that are open to public inspection. But the investigator need not stop there; if he is talented, he will have access to a number of sensitive-information files that are normally thought of as confidential. The result is that anyone with money to spend on the project can secure a remarkably comprehensive personal history for any "subject" ' he chooses to investigate. Almost all this information has been supplied by the subject himself, willingly enough, as he has sought a job, or a loan, or an insurance policy. What he may not have understood is that each of these files generates information for other files.
doi:10.2307/1190676 fatcat:peye2hdqzbcqzpylmwzctzpi3y