Privacy and Freedom of Information

Recent disclosures that federal, state, and local agencies have been illegally collecting information about the personal lives, associations, and political opinions of individuals cannot fail to have a chilling effect on the exercise of such constitutional rights as privacy, free expression and free association. We deplore the activities of those agencies that have abused their power by engaging in such activities. It now appears that such illegal files are in the hands of such agencies as the military intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, the Postal Service, as well as state and local agencies.

The UAHC supports the following measures to turn away from such tactics:

  1. That illegal governmental surveillance and collection of data on individuals cease;
  2. That such material be expunged from existing dossiers, files, and information banks;
  3. That Congress and state legislatures maintain supervision and watchfulness over the future activities of governmental agencies and properly and necessarily collect personal information to insure that such agencies operate within the law and the Constitution.
  4. We note with satisfaction that Congress has taken action to establish a independent committee to monitor and watchdog the work of the intelligence agencies;
  5. That there should be wide dissemination of publicity and information about the rights of people under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies and react to personal material in individual files in order to insure that files of false, misleading, irrelevant, or illegally collected data are not being maintained.

We encourage our constituent congregations, rabbis, and national agencies of American Reform Judaism to publicize to their members the rights of individuals under the Freedom of Information Act and to give appropriate assistance to individuals in order to protect them from abuse of their rights through unwarranted governmental surveillance, and the collection and storage of personal information.