Jacqueline BarlowGLIS 645: Archival Principles and Practice28 November 2007
free society” (MacNeil 1992, 3)
. This could be interpreted to mean that the moreinformation we share, the less freedom we have. In potential conflict with this view isthe idea – according to MacNeil “generally conceded” (MacNeil 1991, 138) – that some personal information
be shared, for purposes of government, as well as a meansfor members of society to understand their own culture and heritage; for it is true that our heritage and culture are, in large part, made up of the actions of individual people.Taking it a step farther are those who argue, like Tim Cook, “[d]eny a citizenry its history,even parts of it, and you begin to deny them the chance to make informed choices, tounderstand themselves, and to question the government, now and in the future” (Cook 2002, 112). According to this view, access to information is in fact a condition of freedom. And so the tension between privacy and access to information is especially problematic, because both concepts are seen to be essential tenets of a modern democraticsociety.
National Archives and the Census
The Canadian Census, probably the most comprehensive and most well-known process for collecting personal information of Canadian citizens, is administered byStatistics Canada every five years. The questions it has asked have changed somewhatover time, but have generally included basic facts like name, address, birthdate, maritalstatus, and education (Statistics Canada, 2007). In 1999, an expert panel was appointedto discuss the fate of Census records which are stored in the National Archives of Canada.The panel was appointed “because there is a difference of views between those who believe that individual census records should routinely be made available, after a time, to
MacNeil calls this the “civil libertarian” view.