President Trump announced today that he will order federal agencies to transfer personal data to the Department of Commerce to determine the number of non-citizens in the United States. Trump stated, “We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the non-citizen population including databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, and the Social Security Administration.” President Trump has abandoned his quest to seek citizenship information on the 2020 Census after the Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Department’s decision to collect citizenship data “cannot be adequately explained” by the rationale provided by the agency. EPIC separately sought to block the Census Bureau’s collection of citizenship data because the agency failed to complete required privacy impact assessments. Last month, the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in the case, ruling that EPIC did not have a legal basis to obtain Privacy Impact Assessments from the federal government. EPIC also filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, joined by 23 legal scholars and technical experts, warning that “collecting citizenship status information from hundreds of millions of U.S. residents presents enormous privacy and security concerns.” The federal Privacy Act also imposes limits on the ability of federal agencies to transfer personal data to other agencies. The DHS has previously stated that DACA applicant information would be used exclusively for the purposes for which it was provided.
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