“I Want My File”: Surveillence Data, Minimization, and Historical Accountability

Douglas Cox *

Revelations of secret National Security Agency (:NSA”) intelligence collection programs and other federal and state surveil- lance programs have reignited the debate over the relative value of individual privacy rights and national security. This article argues that in this debate greater attention must be paid to the “right to know” both the individual‘s “right to know” what records the government collects on them and the public’s “right to know” the scope of government surveillance programs—and that federal recordkeeping laws are the appropriate legal mechanism to ensure both long-term government accountability and the historical record.

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* Attorney and Law Library Professor, City University of New York School of Law. The author previously worked in intelligence while serving in the United States Army. This article underwent prepublication review by the National Security Agency and was cleared for publication. The views expressed are only those of the author.