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.
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Last Amended: 13 October 1995
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