Get Your Files

Via Talkleft, Records the Government Keeps On You:

The Forensic Scientist Blog has a list of the top six files the government keeps on you, how to obtain them, and why you should have them.

Cateories: The FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, Earnings Records, Criminal Records and Court Records. According to the blog, if your FBI record is under 50 pages, it's free.

How many years before the government has one mega-file, or an efficient and easy-to-collate distributed file, on each of us?

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4 Responses to Get Your Files

  1. Karl Auerbach says:

    I noticed that the underlying article suggests using the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552).

    FOIA is a vehicle designed to allow citizens to see government records. It contains many exceptions and limitations.

    Often a better vehicle for a person to obtain, and correct, government records about himself is the Privacy Act (5 USC 552a – notice the small ‘a’).

    The Privacy Act allows people “to gain access to his record or to any information pertaining to him”, to request the agency to make corrections, and to post a note of disagreement with the information.

  2. Laws are for the Little People says:

    I recently applied for a job with the US census and received a letter in the mail stating that I had been run against the FBI criminal history index, and my name came up with a “partial match” based on “descriptors only” and that there was a chance that this record does not actually concern me. The letter gave me two options:

    1. If I do not wish to dispute the identity of the record in question, I can send in all court documents.
    2. If I do wish to dispute the identity of the record in question, I can send my fingerprints.

    I was a little perplexed, as I have nothing in my criminal history beyond a couple speeding tickets and a municipal ordinance violation. Moreover, the letter never identified the record in question (not even a relevant date), making it more difficult to determine how to dispute the identity of the record in question.

    It seems to me the FBI is using the federal hiring process to compel individuals to spend the time necessary and pay the relevant court fees to build their mega-database for them.

    Calls to the census bureau and the FBI were not at all helpful in determining what sort of information the FBI was producing. I don’t know what they might be telling other potential employers. And since the Census had my SSN, I don’t know why there should be any ambiguity about my identity.

  3. michael says:

    And since the Census had my SSN, I don’t know why there should be any ambiguity about my identity.

    Perhaps someone else has used your SSN number to work illegally? It’s not uncommon.

  4. nobody says:

    How many years before the government has one mega-file, or an efficient and easy-to-collate distributed file, on each of us?

    Never.

    The government will never maintain a single file for all persons, due to bureacratic turf-wars, and due to security compartmentalization.

    For some perspective here, see the Church committee report.

    United States Senate, 94th Congress, 2nd Session
    Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities

    Senator Frank F. Church, Chairman
    Senator John G. Tower, Vice Chairman

    Final Report April 26 (legislative day, April 14), 1976

    Book II: Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans

    […]

    A. VIOLATING AND IGNORING THE LAW

    […]

    Subfindings

    […]

    (d) Internal recognition of the illegality or the questionable legality of many of these activities frequently led to a tightening of security rather than to their termination. Partly to avoid exposure and a public “flap,” knowledge of these programs was tightly held within the agencies, special filing procedures were used, and “cover stories” were devised.

    (e) On occasion, intelligence agencies failed to disclose candidly their programs and practices to their own General Counsels, and to Attorneys General, Presidents, and Congress.

    […]

    When some part of the government runs an illegal program, the agencies can’t let other parts of the government know what’s going down. Thus, files must be segregated and compartmentalized.

    The government will never maintain just one single file on individuals of interest.

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