EPIC files suit against the Bush administration

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center has again filed suit against the Bush administration, this time to hurry the release of documents regarding antiterrorism measures and a possible national identification system instituted by the government.

EPIC today announced that it would sue to get the details of national ID card legislation reportedly being drawn up by the Office of Homeland Security. The ID card system would reportedly link driver's license information from around the country to federal databases.

"The potential privacy implications of these proposals are far-reaching," said EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg. "Under well-established open-record laws, Gov. [Tom] Ridge has an obligation to the American people to ensure that these decisions are made in the open."

Ridge heads the homeland security office, which falls under the jurisdiction of the White House. A White House spokesman was unavailable for comment this morning on the EPIC suit.

Today's lawsuit marks the second time EPIC has taken on the Bush administration over Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests the group has filed. On March 15, EPIC sued the U.S. Department of Transportation seeking details of the DOT's Trusted Traveler program, a security screening system for identifying airline passengers and workers (see story).

In both cases, EPIC filed requests under the FOI Act for more information after press reports stated that certain departments of the administration were drafting legislation or drawing up plans for new airline security programs as well as the possible use of ID cards for passengers and biometric cards for airline employees. EPIC asked that the information requests be expedited under a 1996 addition to the FOI law.

Rotenberg and EPIC General Counsel David Sobel said the information must be released quickly so the public can make intelligent decisions about the administration's proposals.

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