Problem & Projects Based Learning Pennsylvania Projects
bill of rights Balancing Privacy and Security:
The Privacy Implications of Government Data Mining Programs

Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology testified before the Senate that the existing legal framework
protecting Americans' privacy has been rendered ineffective by the march of technology,
and suggested that core laws like the Privacy Act have become inadequate.

Newsweek, "The Other Big Brother"

Frontline - The Persuaders - data mining | CNN - If you would like to rob a bank

Data Mining Doesn't Catch Terrorists U. S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary January 10, 2007 meeting

"Balancing Privacy and Security: The Privacy Implications of Government Data Mining Programs

Watch Government Use of Personal Information on CSPAN Washington Journal online January 13, 2007. (Use the video search)

Illegal drug use may be tracked with toilet waste

Consider a few of Leslie Harris' suggestions regarding Government searches of your personal information.

Vigorous oversight of data mining.

Prohibit ineffective programs.

Privacy Act is being bypassed.

People should be able to appeal incorrect information.

question mark What is data mining?


Food for thought

A student uses their bank MAC card to make fast food purchases. The student goes for a physical check up. About a month later the student gets a letter from the United States Department of Health and Human Services that suggests they need to make a change in their eating habits. It includes a low carb low fat diet plan "especially crafted for you." Among the suggestions is one that the student curtail consuming fast food. It goes on to show the student the amount of calories and fat they have consumed in fast food, over the past month.

Or imagine that the state's Civil Rights Commission is concerned that illegal aliens are being victimized. In an effort to target their message, they use data mining to identify people who watched a TV show or rented a movie that argued against illegal immigration. They send a copy of their tolerance guidelines to these people and urge them to attend a program on diversity.

What do you think about the government tracking your personal info?



Read the Guide to Persuasive Writing

Write a letter regarding this issue to one of the individuals that represent you in the U.S. Congress. Tell them how you feel about this issue. Describe what you believe should be done about it. Endeavor to cite specific examples. Alternatively, you can write to someone who represents you at the state or local level.

Your challenges include: finding their office address, using the correct salutation including title, as well as, following appropriate business letter writing format.

*Many elected officials have an email form/link in their web site. It is reasonable to use this, in lieu of paper and postage, but format and style expectations will remain the same. Write the letter in word processing. Edit it as needed. Then copy .. paste it into the email form. Some have set a maximum character limit to emails. If that is the case, write the formal letter. Then drop the address heading and date from the email.


Make a satirical video or multimedia presentation project regarding datamining and privacy.

The Yes Men - Examine this approach to dealing with the problem/issue.
Examples: WTO/GATT | Dow- Union Carbide | Ice Age Petition - How to's for iMovie software

"We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights - older than our political parties,
older than our school system." William O. Douglas


Center for Democracy and Technology Electronic Privacy Information Center
Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy Project on Government Oversight

Privacy of Personal Information at School

Evaluate your Senator or Representative Project
THOMAS - legislative information from the Library of Congress eGovernment - evaluate a government web site
How to track Federal Legislation using THOMAS Transparency Essay ms/hs
Center for Media and Democracy - PR Watch investigating public relations Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Economic Aspects of Personal Privacy Cars - Event Recording Device - Privacy, safety & justice is the official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services. Google's Super Satellite Captures First Image

Can a letter make a difference? Look into the story of Sarah Josepha Hale. Her letter writing campaign is important to Americans the fourth Thursday in November. Or consider the advocacies of these extraordinary women: Anna Jarvis and Rachel Carson. Picking Letters, 10 a Day, That Reach Obama

Extend your thinking

Privacy of Personal Information at School | Database tutorials | GIS | GPS

Civil Liberties and National Security | Government Integrity - The Power of Facts from the Web

The Right to Privacy and the U. S. Constitution

Government, Statistics and the Media

Problem Based Learning / Internet Hunts / Nature / Computers / Pennsylvania Projects / Puzzles & Projects / Site map / Home

developed by Cynthia J. O'Hora Released to public domain and Posted 1/2007 UTD 5/2010, 11/2021

tree icon How to make a Digital Answer Sheet: Highlight the text of the questions on this web page, copy them - Edit .. Copy. Open a text document or word processing document. Paste the questions into the blank document. Answer the questions in the word processing document in a contrasting color (not yellow) or font ( avoid fancy fonts like: black, Symbol, dearform fomnt or broad. Save frequently as you work. I do not like losing my work. You will not like it either. Submit your assignment via an electronic class dropbox or email attachment. Save a copy of your work on your computer. Proof your responses. It is funny how speling errors and typeos sneak in to the bets work. smiling icon Make Your Own Printed Answer Sheet.