The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that two government agencies have ignored the centers repeated Freedom of Information Act requests for information on data privacy.
EPIC filed its suit in United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, charging that the departments of Justice and Treasury have failed to respond to several requests under the Freedom of Information Act for documents relating to the agencies purchase of personal records and documents relating to private citizens.
The suit asks the court to order the release of the requested documents.
Federal agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, have purchased personal information from profiling companies such as Experian Information Solutions Inc. and ChoicePoint Inc., the suit alleges.
EPIC officials said they have documents that show these companies have sold the IRS credit data, property records, and marriage and divorce data.
"Through the mining of public records and the purchase of credit reporting data, private sector companies are amassing troves of personal information on citizens for the government," said Chris Hoofnagle, an attorney with EPIC in Washington. "Serious questions exist involving citizen access to profiles, their accuracy and the potential for misuse of personal information."
Under FOIA regulations, the recipient of a request for information has 20 working days to respond. EPICs suit alleges that the various law enforcement agencies to which it sent requests not only failed to respond within the allotted time, but havent responded at all.