A Normative Regulatory Framework
For Computer Matching

Roger Clarke

Australian National University

The John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law

XIII,4 (Summer 1995) 585-633

© Australian National University, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994


Computer matching is a powerful data surveillance tool which, since its emergence in 1976, has become very widely used by government agencies. It involves the merger of data from multiple sources: data which was gathered for different purposes, is subject to different definitions, and is of variable quality. It is a mass dataveillance technique, and its purpose is to generate suspicions that errors, misdemeanours or fraud have occurred. For many years, computer matching activities were carried on in semi-secrecy. The purpose of this paper is to propose a framework within which effective regulation can be imposed on this dangerous technique.

The paper commences by providing background to computer matching's origins and nature. Its impacts are then discussed, in order to establish that there is a need for controls. Intrinsic controls are assessed, and found wanting. A set of features of a satisfactory external control regime is then presented. It provides a basis for evaluation of the protective measures which are in force in at least four jurisdictions, and guidance for legislators in others.


Go to Roger's Home Page.

Go to the contents-page for this segment.

Send an email to Roger

Last Amended: 13 October 1995

These community service pages are a joint offering of the Australian National University (which provides the infrastructure), and Roger Clarke (who provides the content).

The Australian National University
Visiting Fellow, Faculty of
Engineering and Information Technology,

Information Sciences Building Room 211

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, ACN: 002 360 456

78 Sidaway St
Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA

Tel: +61 6 288 6916 Fax: +61 6 288 1472