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[IP] re The White House just posted the emails of critics without censoring sensitive personal information
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Dave Farber
2017-07-15 01:32:48 UTC
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Subject: Re: [IP] The White House just posted the emails of critics without censoring sensitive personal information
Date: July 14, 2017 at 6:19:12 PM EDT
The collection of voter records that it is building, as implied from the letters it sent to the various States, does appear as if it would be subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a - notice that little 'a' at the end) https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/552a
And from the mission of the PCEI it would be reasonable to conclude that their intention is to use that data to match records from different states and with other databases.
It's been more than 30 years since I last dug deeply into the Privacy Act, but it seems to me that the PCEI may be flouting its obligations under that act.
The Privacy Act of 1974 is interested in records about people. The statute is interested in aggregations and linking of data to other databases.
The Privacy Act does not appear to automagically exempt databases of such data just because some (or perhaps even all) of that data could be obtained by the public by other means or even if there is an assertion that the data is "public" in some way.
One of the requirements of the Privacy Act is that a notice of the existence of such databases must be published in the Federal Register (and be listed in the CFR). And the details of "matching programs" that use that data must also be published in the Federal Register.
I just took a look at the Federal Register for all of 2017 and such notices have *not* been published.
I would be rather useful if a group such as EPIC or EFF could take a look with eyes more recently skilled than my own in the arts of reading 5 USC xxxx and ascertain whether the PCEI really is trying to fly without adhering to its Privacy Act obligations.
--karl--
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Dave Farber
2017-07-15 01:58:38 UTC
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Subject: RE: [IP] re The White House just posted the emails of critics without censoring sensitive personal information
Date: July 14, 2017 at 9:55:53 PM EDT
Great minds think alike, Karl!
Public Citizen (my colleague Sean Sherman) brought a Privacy Act claim over the voter data collection, but not against the Presidential Commission, because the commission is not an ”agency” as defined in the Privacy Act, but rather against the Army, whose server was the collection point. The Army is an agency. https://www.citizen.org/our-work/litigation/cases/public-citizen-v-united-states-department-army <https://www.citizen.org/our-work/litigation/cases/public-citizen-v-united-states-department-army>
Our theory of Privacy Act violation was a little different from Karl’s – we argued that the Privacy Act flatly forbids agencies from collecting information about how Americans exercise their First Amendment rights, and voting can be a First Amendment right.
However, shortly after we sued, the Commissioner announced that it was no longer using the Army’s server. It has yet to be determined whether the server now in use is within the ambit of the Privacy Act
FWIW, a number of the questions that Judge Kollar-Kotelly asked by her written order in EPIC’s suit against the commission, and that she is reported to have asked at oral argument, appeared to be focused on this same “agency” issue.
And further FWIW, the Commission has begun publishing in the Federal Register For example,https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/07/05/2017-14210/the-presidential-commission-on-election-integrity-pcei-upcoming-public-advisory-meeting <https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/07/05/2017-14210/the-presidential-commission-on-election-integrity-pcei-upcoming-public-advisory-meeting>
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2017 9:33 PM
To: ip
Subject: [IP] re The White House just posted the emails of critics without censoring sensitive personal information
Subject: Re: [IP] The White House just posted the emails of critics without censoring sensitive personal information
Date: July 14, 2017 at 6:19:12 PM EDT
The collection of voter records that it is building, as implied from the letters it sent to the various States, does appear as if it would be subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a - notice that little 'a' at the end) https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/552a <https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/552a>
And from the mission of the PCEI it would be reasonable to conclude that their intention is to use that data to match records from different states and with other databases.
It's been more than 30 years since I last dug deeply into the Privacy Act, but it seems to me that the PCEI may be flouting its obligations under that act.
The Privacy Act of 1974 is interested in records about people. The statute is interested in aggregations and linking of data to other databases.
The Privacy Act does not appear to automagically exempt databases of such data just because some (or perhaps even all) of that data could be obtained by the public by other means or even if there is an assertion that the data is "public" in some way.
One of the requirements of the Privacy Act is that a notice of the existence of such databases must be published in the Federal Register (and be listed in the CFR). And the details of "matching programs" that use that data must also be published in the Federal Register.
I just took a look at the Federal Register for all of 2017 and such notices have *not* been published.
I would be rather useful if a group such as EPIC or EFF could take a look with eyes more recently skilled than my own in the arts of reading 5 USC xxxx and ascertain whether the PCEI really is trying to fly without adhering to its Privacy Act obligations.
--karl--
--
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