Goldwater Study Enters Debate on Privacy Policy in Arizona

Posted on May 24, 2002 | Type: Press Release
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Paper Takes on Red-Light Cameras, Court Record Accessibility,

Internet Privacy


Phoenix, AZ-In a policy paper released today by the Goldwater Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior analyst Solveig Singleton weighs in on privacy policy issues in Arizona. In "The Freedom of Information Versus the Right to Privacy: A Pro-Market Framework for Arizona," Singleton finds that both the US and Arizona constitutions protect citizens' rights to privacy against government intrusions, and those safeguards should be maintained.


On the other hand, Singleton finds that the private sector should be free to use and transfer information about consumers for legitimate business purposes such as marketing or product development. "Surfers beware," warns Singleton. "The web is a public area. The essence of the Internet and other electronic networks is not privacy, but the seamless and low-cost transmission of information." Thus, Singleton argues that any new laws affecting the private sector should carefully target proven problem areas, such as credit card fraud, and the brunt of the law should fall on the criminals in question, not on legal businesses.


Singleton's paper, available on the Goldwater website, makes the following findings:

  • Red-Light Cameras. Cameras in public places threaten privacy and due process and should be used as only a last resort. But the privacy impact of red-light cameras can be minimized with certain safeguards.
  • Court Records Accessibility. Arizona should preserve access to public records for a broad range of legal purposes, from political activity to marketing to assessing credit risks. Blocking access to social security numbers in court records would do more harm than good, except perhaps for records open to casual Internet onlookers.
  • Consumer Privacy. Broad state regulation of Internet or consumer privacy, whether of an opt-out or opt-in nature, is not needed and would harm Arizona consumers and businesses, both large and small.
  • Privacy Policies on the Internet. Businesses that conduct electronic commerce need flexibility to draft, and sometimes redraft, their privacy policies, as they do with any other contract term.



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