Browsing articles in "Data Collection and Data Privacy"
Nov 25, 2017

The National Pulse – House Leaders Ignore Citizen Concerns, Pass National Database Bill

More analysis at the National Post from Dr. Effrem about the very ill-advised passage of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA – HR 4174). This bill will eventually lead to the establishment of a national database. An executive summary to the rebuttal to the House Majority Staff “Myths and Facts” sheet is included. Keep calling your U.S. Senators at 202-224-3121 to stop the senate version S 2046 and the White House to veto the bill should it pass the Senate. Thank you! Read the full article here.


This bill’s supporters also claim it will increase transparency. However, the only transparency it increases is to the private data of the American people, which even if anonymous, was collected in identifiable form. FEPA expands the swamp by increasing government control and monitoring of individual American citizens, and it must be stopped.


Nov 21, 2017

FEPA Update & Rebuttal


Thank you very much for all of your efforts to try to stop HR 4174, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. Sadly the House listened to the Big Data special interests and dismissed the concerns of the grassroots, passing the bill on a voice vote with only 23 minutes of cheerleading “debate.”

In their attempt to quash debate and citizen opposition, the House staff put out a propaganda piece masquerading as “facts.” ELW along with several other groups focused on privacy thoroughly reviewed and researched these claims and have produced a response that includes a one page executive summary.

Please review the summary and let your Senators know that they should oppose this bill. The bill is on a fast track and may well bypass the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to which it is currently referred. Please also start urging President Trump to be on the lookout for this bill and to veto it if it reaches his desk.

Mr. Trump expressed grave concern over student privacy as indicated in this discussion with Ann Marie Banfield of Cornerstone Action of New Hampshire on the campaign trail in 2015. Please remind him of his statements.

More information will soon be forthcoming. This is not a data transparency bill, it is a swamp expanding bill. It must be stopped!


Nov 13, 2017

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act Will Lead to a National Database



HR 4174/S 2046,[1] the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA), introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray, is another federal bill that will increase 1) the non-consensual surveillance of free-born American citizens, and 2) the probability of a comprehensive national database on every American. This legislation responds to the report[2] by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP),[3] an entity created by FEPA’s authors. The justification is to monitor the effectiveness of federal programs, but deep problems with the bill outweigh any possible benefits:

FEPA mandates that every federal agency create an “evidence building” (data-mining) plan that must include “a list of . . . questions for which the agency intends to develop evidence to support policymaking” and “a list of data the agency intends to collect, use, or acquire to facilitate the use of evidence in policymaking.” This would allow any bureaucrats to propose to collect any data on any citizen on any topic they want, to answer their desired policy questions. 

Each agency is also directed to create “…a list of any challenges” to this goal, including “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data.” This responds to CEP’s recommendation that “Congress and the President should consider repealing current bans and limiting future bans on the collection and use of data for evidence building.”  This recommendation presumably covers the student unit-record prohibition[4] and the prohibition[5] on creating a national K-12 student database.[6]

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget must then use all these evidence-building (data-mining) plans to develop “a unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government. Although the public must be “consulted,” and lip service is paid to issues of privacy and confidentiality of data, these are only items to be considered. There are no actual prohibitions or even limitations on proceeding with data collection, regardless of the sensitivity of the data.

The federal government is demonstrably incompetent at data security; moreover, the government routinely ignores the overwhelming data it already has that shows the ineffectiveness of many (most) federal programs.[7] There is no reason to believe an even more enormous trove of data can be secured, or that it will actually change government behavior in any meaningful way.

Most importantly, collecting and holding massive amounts of data about an individual has an intimidating effect on the individual—even if the data is never used. This fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. Citizen direction of government cannot happen when government sits in a position of intimidation of the individual.[8]

A bill like FEPA would be expected from a totalitarian government.[9] Congress should solve the “program effectiveness” problem by returning to the Founders’ vision and drastically reducing government’s bloated size and scope. This solution would obviate the need for the Orwellian surveillance scheme initiated by FEPA.










Nov 13, 2017

The College Transparency Act Must Be Rejected



“Transparency” is the new excuse for creating Orwellian tracking and surveillance systems. The federal government first takes over a function for which it has no constitutional authority – such as student loans – and then claims it must gather almost unlimited data on the citizens affected by that program to see how it’s working. The College Transparency Act (CTA) operates in this mold and must be rejected.

CTA would overturn the Higher Education Act’s ban on a student unit-record system, establishing a federal data system containing personally identifiable information (PII) about behavior in postsecondary education (enrollment patterns, progression, completion), post-collegiate outcomes (employment and earnings), and financial aid. This means that simply by enrolling in higher education, a student would be submitting – without notice or consent – to lifetime government tracking of his or her college, career, and financial trajectory.

CTA would require sharing of private student data among multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid; the Departments of Treasury, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the Social Security Administration; and the Census Bureau. (More may be added.) So an individual’s PII can be linked to his tax information, his military information, his Social Security records, and everything the Census knows about him. There are no limits on the purposes for which this data-matching can be used. The Administrative State will be able to compile a massive dossier on every American who enrolls in college.

Although collection of some sensitive data is currently prohibited, the Commissioner of Education Statistics is required to periodically review data elements and empowered to add more. Also, there is no specific prohibition against the collection of social emotional data.

This federal treasure trove of PII would be housed in a centralized database and routinely updated, throughout each subject’s life.

CTA violates many of the widely accepted Fair Information Practice Principles[1]: It takes data without subjects’ knowledge and consent; it contains no right to opt out, or to inspect or correct the data; it includes no mandate for data-minimization; and it has no limits on data-retention.

Although CTA requires that data given to researchers be de-identified, re-identification is far too simple when there are so many data points in the system.[2]

CTA mentions data security but requires no security audits, encryption, or protocols for detection and notification of breaches. And federal agencies have been notorious for data breaches.

CTA is unnecessary. Information about postsecondary outcomes can be compiled from student and alumni surveys,[3] and any legitimate institution of higher education is happy to share its statistics with the public.

[1] See

[2] See

[3] See