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U.S. Republican House Passes Massive Citizen Data System

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November 21, 2017

U.S. Republican House Passes Massive Citizen Data System

The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote on November 15 after House rules were suspended in order to pass the bill without a roll call. 

This is typically done when a bill is considered “non-controversial.” However, that isn’t the case with H.R. 4174. which is based on the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. This entity was created under the Evidence-Based Policy Making Commission Act of 2016 signed by President Obama and sponsored by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray. 

Although the bill requires monitoring the effectiveness of federal programs by developing a strategy for increasing the availability and use of data, the danger is that it 1) increases government surveillance of a free people and 2) opens the door to a comprehensive national database on every American. 

FEP requires that every federal agency create an evidence building (data-mining) plan. Under the terms of the bill any federal agency can propose a topic and a list of the data needed for policymaking. This allows the collection of data on any citizen on any topic dictated by the agency to answer their policy questions. 

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget are required to use these evidence-building (data-mining) plans to develop “a unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government. 

Isn’t this centralizing data collection?

Currently there are prohibitions on creating national K-12 and student unit-record (higher) databases. 

A clarification to FEPA was sent out by Congressman Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, insisting the bill

  • “does not create a federal data system and does not authorize any new or additional data collection;” and

  • “does not overturn an existing student unit record ban, which prohibits the establishment of a database with data on all students.” 

Yet the bill requires that each agency create “…a list of any challenges” to accessing data, including “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data.”

This mandate is based on the 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.” 

Although FEP claims to protect the privacy of the data, evidence already exists that the U.S. Department of Education’s data security system is anything but secure.

During the CEP’s 2016 hearings, many grassroots Americans spoke out against the creation of a national student tracking database and maintaining our privacy.

With all of the grave concerns of student privacy advocates who didn’t find the bill “non-controversial,” why didn’t any Republicans speak up about the dangers?

Why were the rules suspended to allow only limited debate and a voice vote?

Why didn’t “conservative” Republicans demand that a roll call vote be scheduled?

Since it was not a roll-call vote, no specific record of yea’s or nay’s is available. However, since not a single Congressman spoke out against the bill despite having received hundreds of citizens’ calls and emails, everyone of them will be held accountable. 

The Senate companion bill sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, S.2046, will be voted on soon. 

Privacy and parental rights are being undermined yet again by the federal government. Now that the House has passed the bill to create a massive data system with personal data on freeborn Americans, we must stop it in the Senate. 

Call your Senator about the dangers of S. 2046.

 

Tell Your Senator to “VOTE NO” on S. 2046. 

 

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Dr. Carole H. Haynes 
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