Against the wishes of concerned citizens, a dangerous data-mining bill, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174, “FEPA”), became law this week. Eagle Forum sent out alerts and emails to Congressional and White House staff, however, the influence of the swamp was far too great.
Although the bill was sponsored by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), there was no question as to who was behind the bill- the establishment. House Leadership let us down last year on many things like failing to repeal Obamacare, voting for budgets that drove us further into debt, and passing the buck on funding the border wall. To make matters worse, they pushed forward a bill that threatens our privacy.
FEPA is simply an overreach of big government. This legislation allows all data collected on individuals to be shared across multiple federal agencies. Although the language does not create a national database, that will be the exact results of this maneuver. Once this data can be accessed by more people, the risk of hacking will become much higher. The federal government already has a poor track record of keeping our data safe. Not only is our data dangerous in the hands of criminals, but also those who have a political agenda to achieve. Government officials will be able to make sweeping assumptions and skew the results of federal programs based on this data which has the potential to hurt the American people.
Proponents of the bill in Congress were so intent in getting this passed, that they distributed a document trying to refute Eagle Forum’s facts. Thanks to the expertise of our colleagues at Education Liberty Watch and American Principles Project, we were able to craft a line-for-line rebuttal. Shortly after, the House passed it by a voice vote alone with the Senate taking it up during the lame duck session. The Senate made a minor adjustment to the bill and then passed it back to the House by a voice vote. This time, the House took a roll call on this vote which showed 17 Republicans voting against it. Once the bill was on the President’s desk to sign, many concerned Americans voiced their opposition to FEPA. Although our efforts were not successful in stopping this from becoming law, they were largely successful in raising awareness to the issue of privacy.
Eagle Forum will continue to work on upcoming education legislation such as the reauthorizations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Higher Education Act. We will urge Congress to pass these bills with the appropriate privacy measures that protect our families.
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