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Home > Privacy and Government > Current Issues: > Should Governments Have Chief Information Officers?


Should Governments Have Chief Information Officers?

A common refrain in discussions of privacy and e-government is that new bureaucrats should be installed to serve as "Chief Information Officers" or "Privacy Czars" or other like-named positions. While there may be some benefit in having officials dedicated to privacy, there are risks too.

The appointment of a privacy czar or creation of a privacy office is a poor substitute for directly addressing the voraciousness of many government programs for citizens' personal information. Political leaders themselves should incorporate privacy into their daily consideration of policy options, rather than farming out that responsibility to officials who may or may not have a say in government policy.

As a management matter, government privacy officers may become antagonistic to the agencies with whom they deal, and lose effectiveness, or they may be captured by agencies and become professional apologists for government erosion of privacy.

Proposals to create government privacy bureaucrats should be treated skeptically. True benefits to privacy come from reducing the demand of government programs for personal information about citizens.


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[updated 07/19/01]



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