Congress Considers Federal Database of Food Aid Recipients

A controversial provision of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 would establish a federal database of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients for the purpose of denying food assistance. The SNAP program provides assistance to low-income households and is administered by the states. However, Section 4001 would create a federal database with personal data, such as social security numbers, employment status, and income amounts, with the aim of denying food assistance. Privacy scholars have explained that government agencies often subject individuals living in poverty to excessive surveillance. Last year, EPIC successfully challenged the efforts of a federal commission to establish a national voter database, noting that voting is a state function.


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