back to top

1977 Presidential Commission Warned Against Warrantless Government Spying

They kind of went the other way on that one.

Posted on

In 1977 the Presidential Commission on Privatization suggested that Jimmy Carter's administration give people a chance to defend themselves from having personally identifiable information released to the government without their knowledge.

In a report titled Personal Privacy in an Information Society the commission lays out several recommendations.

The recommendations included providing citizens a chance to challenge the relevance of the request for their records, that any request made for those records be made only through legal processes (though what's legal today has changed dramatically since 1977), and that the records only be requested when it's known they'll be needed for an investigation, to protect someone's well being or basically for any justifiable reason.

"Just as the Constitution does not prohibit all searches and seizures, the Commission does not suggest that government agents be absolutely prohibited from obtaining records about individuals," the report reads. "Government, however, will have to make its case before it can do so."

Jacob Fischler is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact Jacob Fischler at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.