EPIC Warns of Privacy Act Obligations for Potential Federal Database of Food Aid Recipients

In advance of a hearing on "Program Integrity for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," EPIC has sent a statement to the House Oversight Committee. A 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. EPIC warned that if Congress decides to create this federal database, then the Department of Agriculture will be subject to Privacy Act obligations, including potential liability for the data breaches that may result. 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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