EPIC Urges Removal of Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

In advance of the nomination hearing for the Census director, EPIC has sent a statement to a Senate committee urging the Census Bureau to suspend the citizenship question in the 2020 Census until a Privacy Impact Assessment is conducted. The administration conceded that the question was added at the request of the Justice Department, but EPIC explained that census data should never be used for law enforcement because that would undermine the constitutional purpose and the integrity of the census. An earlier Privacy Impact Assessment preceded the addition of the citizenship question. EPIC said that assessment does not meet the agency standards and that the Census is required by law to conduct a revised assessment. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, EPIC obtained documents (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) concerning Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the citizenship question. The census raises significant privacy risks and was used to target Japanese-Americans for internment during World War II. EPIC previously obtained documents which revealed that the Census Bureau transferred the personal data of Muslim Americans to DHS after 9-11. As a consequence of EPIC's lawsuit, the Census Bureau revised its policy on disclosing statistical information about "sensitive populations" to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. EPIC also opposed the addition of the citizenship question in recent comments to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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