EPIC goes to court over government data

US privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of information...

US privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of information involving the purchase of private information on individuals by US government agencies.

EPIC announced that it filed the suit under the Freedom of Information Act after several government agencies failed to provide the group with information about contracts with private profiling companies. The companies sell information on US citizens, including credit information, property records, state motor vehicle records, and marriage and divorce data, to these agencies, the group said.

According to EPIC attorney Chris Hoofnagle, the privacy group is concerned that these private companies are furnishing the government with information on individuals that may not be regulated or monitored for accuracy.

EPIC named several agencies as recipients of the data, including the FBI, the US Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Immigration and Nationalisation Service.

"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 Hoofnagle, who filed the court challenge. "Serious questions exist involving citizen access to profiles, their accuracy and the potential for misuse of personal information."

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