data to access public information. How should that be resolved? Nader: It's where you draw the line. If you say to the government that all you can do is just produce raw data without any value added, that's very extreme in our point of view. It's a judgement call as to the response for the government which generates the data with taxpayer money to put it in usable form even though it wouldn't do it in all possible usable forms. It still leaves the opportunity for data transformers in private industry. If you just have raw data, then the citizens cannot use it. You can put that raw data out, but nobody can figure it out. Then they send it to Mead Data [now Lexis-Nexis], and they put it in usable form and sell it. That was a policy of Reagan/Bush and that's what we're opposed to. For highly specialized use, fine, because the government isn't going to figure out every potential specialized use. But making it understandable and meaningful at that first level is clearly a government responsibility. GT: Then there's the issue of getting access to government information and privacy protection. A balance needs to be struck. How do we do that? Nader: Strip them of its proper names for one - turn it into anonymous data. The government is not in the business of selling private information for marketing purposes. I've never supported government selling their magazine mailing list. If I subscribed to some government publication, why should I have my name on a mailing list? You've got the privacy act that deals with those things. GT: Local governments use voter registration records for other things, often for jury duty lists. This is information provided for one purpose then used for another. Is this use of data provided for one purpose but used for others something you're concerned with? Nader: No, because that's one public use to another. GT: Public use to public use is different from public to consumer use? Nader: Yes, but it doesn't mean it should be without limits. You wouldn't want it to go to the NSA or the CIA. That doesn't mean it's a right, that it's an open sesame. It does mean it's still under the same protective law and it's a public use, not a profit use. Personal information that floats around in different contexts, commercial, government, etc. , can be used in a system of control and, at its worst - intimidation, at its best, modest embarrassment. That's why there hasn't been a modification to the credit privacy laws for almost 20 years, but if there is there should be a proprietary interest given and information that relates to personal, commercial or otherwise. On that basis you are in control of what databases are going to be receiving or transmitting it. You would have to give permission and also correct errors more easily than is presently the case.