The proliferation of massive Internet-accessible databases is making corporate and government electronic snooping possible on a scale unprecedented in U.S. history. In the past year Americans have been buffeted by revelations that the government is conducting warrantless spying on citizens' phone calls, that corporate directors are hiring detectives who use false identities to access private phone records, and that thousands of credit-card numbers held in commercial databases have been lost or stolen. Privacy advocates warn that growing access to huge amounts of personal data — from Social Security numbers to health information — are virtually eliminating the concept of personal privacy. If the current Congress does not act this year on President Bush's request for expanded authority to wiretap citizens, the incoming Democrat-led Congress is not expected to approve it. The new Congress, however, is expected to consider requiring businesses and government to take stronger action to protect personal data.