Before the days of White House Enemy Lists and IRS leaks, one might have been tempted to dismiss a book so-titled as tabloid...

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DOSSIER: The Secret Files They Keep on You

Before the days of White House Enemy Lists and IRS leaks, one might have been tempted to dismiss a book so-titled as tabloid sensationalism. But its author -- executive director of the ACLU -- compellingly documents numerous instances of such abuses. The book is loosely organized but certain themes persist: invasion of privacy, improper characterization, unjustified -- and often illegal -- data collection and dissemination of information. An elementary school teacher writes that a student has ""Marxist tendencies"" or is ""a real sicke"" (actual cases); the judgments are eventually made available to employers. ""Tracking systems,"" ""predelinquent programs"" and police ""Y.D. cards"" (issued without due process) label (arbitrarily) juveniles and thereby become self-fulfilling prophecies. Accessible arrest records -- without noting dismissal or acquittal -- undermine the presumption of innocence. Conviction records perpetuate crime in that they prevent an ex-con from finding work. Credit bureaus, their investigators disguised as ""Welcome Neighbors,"" set down judgments of ""promiscuity"" and ""neatness."" The recent wiretaps of newsmen and the employment of a college switchboard operator as an informant against academic ""radicals"" -- not to mention Watergate abominations -- show that fears are not unjustified. A forceful, action-provoking book.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Stein & Day

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974