DHS Seeks to Transfer Personal Data to Census Bureau in Violation of Privacy Act

January 7, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security has announced a plan to transfer detailed personal data collected from immigrants to the Census Bureau—an apparent violation of the Privacy Act. In a privacy impact assessment, published over the holiday break, the DHS revealed that it would provide names, addresses, social security numbers, and other highly sensitive data to the Census Bureau. Yet the DHS admitted that individuals weren't aware their personal data would be obtained by the Census Bureau, that the data may be inaccurate, or used for purposes unrelated to the census survey. The proposed data transfer follows a July executive order by President Trump, who vowed that the government "will leave no stone unturned" when seeking citizenship information from every person in the United States. EPIC previously warned Congress that the executive order could undermine Privacy Act safeguards. In EPIC v. Commerce, EPIC challenged the failure of the Census Bureau to conduct privacy impact assessments before adding the (later withdrawn) citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

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