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2001 Utah L. Rev. 965 (2001)
The Right to Information Self-Determination

handle is hein.journals/utahlr2001 and id is 975 raw text is: The Right To Information Self-Determination

Edward J. Eberle*
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being
watched at any given moment .... It was even conceivable that [the
Thought Police]... watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they
couldplug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did
live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every
sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every
movement scrutinized.2
In his book 1984, George Orwell portrayed a society of thought control,
policed effectively by the Thought Police. Big Brother watched omnipotently
over all, systematically controlling people's thoughts and actions. People were
manipulated and coerced, channeled along desired behavioral patterns. In this
bleak society, human personality and the last flickers of individuality were
smashed, sacrifices to the Party, which kept itself in power through its complete
control of information.
Today, government possesses unprecedented information concerning each
of us, its citizens. Each time we apply for credit, an insurance policy or a
mortgage, file a tax return, or obtain a driver's license we reveal crucial details
about ourselves. We further reveal sensitive information when we apply for
ordinary government benefits, such as health insurance, social security, welfare,
or disability programs. The gathering and storage of great quantities of
information is necessary to the collection of taxes, distribution of benefits,
supervision of public health, operation of the armed services, and enforcement of
*Professor of Law, Roger Williams University School of Law (B.A. Columbia, 1978; J.D.
Northwestern, 1982). Copyright 2000, by Edward J. Eberle. All rights reserved. I wish to thank
Scott Gerber for his valuable comments on this Article and Patti Holmes for her valuable research
'GEORGE ORWELL, 1984, at 3 (1949).
2d. at 2.


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