What is the Bill HR 4174 Really About? by Ben Turay

The new bill, titled HR 4174, is sponsored by Paul Ryan. FEPA stands for Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy-making Act. This bill will increase the data collected on non-consenting US citizens. Title ii of the bill states how this bill will allow for all “public” data to be machine accessible and in an open and available format.

This is worrisome for the millions of children in school our school system that will have their information collected and made public. They are not adults and do not consent to their data being collected. Most would also be unable to comprehend how this would be a negative to them. The justification is that the FEPA will monitor the effectiveness of our federal programs, but there are many underlying problems hidden within the bill.

FEPA mandates that every federal agency create an “evidence building” plan, or resource for data mining, to create decisions on policy making. This would mean they could collect any data they want on American citizens, and their reason would be, “to make a new policy.” Each federal agency is also directed to create, “a list of any challenges.” This responds to the 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.” This recommendation presumably covers the student unit-record prohibition4 and the prohibition5 on creating a national K-12 student database. There are no actual prohibitions or even limitations on proceeding with data collection, regardless of the sensitivity of the data. They will give you their basic lip service when questioned about it and reassure you that your information is safe, when in reality, it is not. Even if the data that is collected on someone is never used, it can destroy the relationship between government and citizen. The Supreme Court has held that one cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy in information that is given to third parties or made accessible to the public. (Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 743–45 (1979)) The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Data mining is the 21st century version of unreasonable searches. Instead of writing down all of your information on paper it is on a computer or phone stored away in a file somewhere. The government would be allowed to make a public data base of all your private information. What you do in your household, private server, blog, or email, etc. is not for the government to see nor keep in public records. If they have a worthy cause to seize this information, they can through legal court orders. They should not have free reign over what they want to take from us in regards to information. The bill has passed the House and Senate and President Trump is the last chance to make sure this bill does not go through.

The Bill:


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