9:00 a.m. EST
Tuesday, April 2, 2002
Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Executive Director
202 483 1140 x106
EPIC FILES SUIT AGAINST OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Seeks Records on Proposal to Create National ID System
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) will file suit today against the Office of Homeland Security, seeking the expedited release of documents concerning the secret development of a government National identification system.
Last month, EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office of Homeland Security that sought records in the possession of the agency on technical and legislative proposals for identification systems. News reports indicate that Governor Ridge, head of the Office of Homeland Security, has drafted legislation that would link state driver's license records to federal agency databases.
EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg said, "the potential privacy implications of these proposals are far-reaching. Under well established open record laws, Governor Ridge has an obligation to the American people to ensure that these decisions are made in the open."
Noting the fact that Congress and state officials are being asked to act quickly on recommendations from the Office of Homeland Security, EPIC requested "expedited processing" of its requests. Congress established this procedure in 1996 to speed the disclosure of information concerning matters of "current exigency to the American public."
EPIC General Counsel David L. Sobel said, "the Office of Homeland Security is subject to the same record disclosure obligations as are other federal agencies that engage in significant policymaking. Here there is a particular urgency to inform the public about the Office's proposed activity as funding and legislative decisions are currently pending before Congress."
Despite a legal requirement to render a decision on an expedition request within 10 days, the Office of Homeland Security has not responded to EPIC's request. The suit will be filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
In a related development, Mr. Rotenberg wrote to Senate Leader Tom Daschle and Minority Leader Trent Lott about the EPIC FOIA lawsuit. The letter states that, "It is imperative that the Office of Homeland Security comply with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act."
A Conference call will be held for members of the press on Tuesday at 1 pm EST. Documents will be available on the EPIC web site at that time.
EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.
CONFERENCE CALL DETAILS
Subject: EPIC Lawsuit
Time Tuesday, April 2 at 1 pm EST
EPIC WEB SITE