FROM THE ARCHIVES: Federal snooping concerns PCC students in 1977, too

By SIERRA J. RUSSELL

Decades before the recent national security scandal regarding leaks by Edward Snowden, there were concerns about restrictions on personal privacy.

“Millions of Americans are affected by some form of government surveillance carried out by a nationwide computerized network of federal and local security agencies,” Aztec Press reporter Tom Kehoe wrote in a 1977 article.

Kehoe noted that the most notorious example of government snooping happened during the Nixon administration.

As the Watergate scandal unfolded, it was revealed that security agencies opened dossiers on thousands of citizens who openly opposed certain government policies.

Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 to ensure that citizens have the right to request any personal information the government has on file.

As a result of the Watergate scandal, Congress amended the FOIA in 1974 to enforce stricter government compliance.

The 1977 Aztec Press article urged concerned students to request their personal files by writing to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington D.C.

The article explained that most requests would require a fee ranging from $10 to $50, unless the files were proven to be in the public interest.

The article also warned, “The Catch 22 of the FOIA is that if you don’t already have a file with the agency you write to, your letter will cause a file to be started under your name.”

Currently, the National Security Agency is inundated with requests for personal files. Requests have increased since the Snowden security leak.

To learn more about how to make a request, visit foia.gov/report-makerequest.html.

To see some files of famous figures that have been recently released from the FBI archives, visit http://vault.fbi.gov/recently-added.

Notable people in the archives include astronaut Neil Armstrong, author Ray Bradbury and singer Whitney Houston.

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