Computers and Privacy:

How the Government Obtains, Verifies, Uses, and Protects Personal Data

IMTEC-90-70BR: Published: Aug 3, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 1990.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO presented information on: (1) how federal agencies obtain, verify, use, and protect personal data; (2) how individuals are made aware of information collected about them; (3) what telecommunications and network facilities agencies' systems use to transmit data; and (4) what effect new technologies have on the sharing of personal data.

GAO found that: (1) agencies reported that, as of January 1989, they collected and stored personal information on individuals in approximately 2,000 predominantly computerized systems; (2) agencies reported that they obtained personal information from various sources, sometimes more than one; (3) agencies obtain and verify information from third-party sources; (4) information in 509 of the 910 largest systems can be accessed by a variety of organizations, such as other agency components within cabinet-level departments; (5) security controls are needed to protect the personal information stored and processed in computer systems from unauthorized disclosure and modification; and (6) computers and communications technologies have enabled agencies to use personal information in new applications designed to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.

Sep 22, 2020

Sep 21, 2020

Sep 17, 2020

Sep 16, 2020

Aug 18, 2020

May 27, 2020

May 13, 2020

Apr 24, 2020

Apr 13, 2020

Feb 11, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here