The National Data Center and the Federal Information Network: A Paradox

Sean Cawley


Technological advancement and increasing data collection activities compelled the call for a National Data Center in 1965. Theoretically, the Center would increase efficiency and diminish costs, as the inefficiencies of information transfer between agencies and organizations steadily rose. However, a firestorm of criticism met the proposal from a number of sectors due to a perceived lack of privacy concerns, which eventually spelled the Center's demise. The destruction of an explicit locale for data storage and retrieval, however, catalyzed the formation of numerous implicit data centers that jeopardized privacy to a far greater degree than it was originally feared the Center would. The history of the National Data Center's demise and the subsequent construction of implicit data centers consists of a useful case study when considering the proper reaction to perceived privacy concerns regarding new technologies.

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