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Digital Privacy News
June 15, 2020

Q&A: Journalist, Author David Burnham, ‘Society has gotten less interested in privacy’, First of two parts
By Aisheh Barghouti

“There’s been a major collapse in the interest of the public about privacy. It’s a really bad situation.”
David Burnham is a former investigative reporter who, during his tenure at The New York Times, covered everything from corruption in the New York City Police Department to the inner workings of the Internal Revenue Service. His groundbreaking work on corruption in the police department led to revelations documented in the 1973 film “Serpico.” Burnham was also the journalist labor union activist Karen Silkwood (on whom the 1983 film “Silkwood” is based) was on her way to meet when she was killed in a car accident that remains suspicious. Now 87, he is co-director and co-founder of the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan research organization that maintains a database of federal enforcement, staffing and financial data. In his 1983 book, “The Rise of the Computer State,” Burnham sounded the alarm of impending surveillance and data-collection by governmental agencies on U.S. citizens. He later wrote “A Law Unto Itself: Power, Politics and the IRS” (1990), in which he investigated the operations of the tax agency and criticized its uneven application of its own rules.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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