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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Lame Duck Congress Passes Anti-Privacy Database Bill

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. January 1, 2019

On a voice vote without debate, the Senate passed a bill that creates a de facto national base.

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA), H.R. 4174, was passed on December 21, creating a massive federal data clearing house from which personal data will be shared across the entire federal government.

This is a never-before-seen assault on Americans’ privacy akin to totalitarian governments. No parental consent or knowledge will be required for sharing and parents will not be able to opt their children out of this national database.

This was a repeat of the underhanded tactics by the House in November 2017 when Speaker Paul Ryan, ignoring massive citizens protests, rammed his own FEPA bill through the House committee only two days after introduction.  It was then passed with a voice vote with no real debate about the privacy implications.

Because of citizen outrage, the Senate was forced to hold the bill in committee for 13 months until after the November elections. On December 19th, a slightly amended version of H.R. 4174 was passed with no hearing, no debate, and no recorded vote. The House passed the amended version of the Senate bill with no debate by a final vote of 356-17, with 17 courageous Republicans voting against it.

Lawmakers have tried to justify their actions by claiming a need to monitor the effectiveness of federal programs. Yet Congress already has volumes of information about the ineffectiveness of many federal programs, including the decades long failure of Head Start, that they ignore and continue to fund.

Congress is also ignoring the dangers of this freedom killing bill.

  • Any bureaucrat can propose to collect data on any citizen and any topic for answers to policy questions.

  • There are no actual bans on data collection, regardless of the sensitivity.

  • Congress can identify any statutory or other restrictions on collecting and accessing personal data for the purpose of overturning them. This includes repealing both the current ban on prohibiting a national college student unit-record and the ban on creating a national K-12 national student database.

  • Congress can use all these data mining plans to develop a national database for the entire federal government.

The bill does not overturn the ban on national databases at this point but its extensive data linking/sharing does create a de facto national database.The data will remain housed at the collecting agency but will be shared widely with others. This poses a major security threat to student data held at the U.S. Department of Education and at the states’ longitudinal data systems. This data can also be hacked by outsiders such as China and Russia that notoriously hack for personal information.

Lifelong tracking of individuals by the federal government using education, employment, wage, and workforce data is being set up by this legislation. A national clearing house is simply the camel’s nose in the tent at the D.C. swamp. The ultimate goal is to create a socialist state with citizen tracking, surveillance, and control.

Our U.S. Representatives have placed our freedom at high risk with their naivete about the bill’s privacy repercussions. Unless President Trump vetoes this bill, individual privacy and personal freedoms will soon be a ghost from the past.

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