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US Senate Letter to FBI re legality of new e.FOIA system, Wyden, 2015

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WASHINGTON, DC 20510-3703

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December 14, 2015
The Honorable James B. Corney, Jr.
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20535
Dear Director Corney:
I am writing in regard to the Federal Bureau oflnvestigation's ("FBI") new e.FOIA system that is
now in an '·open beta'' testing phase. While the system offers a streamlined approach to requests,
it also features a highly problematic requirement: each FOIA request must be submitted with an
uploaded scan of a government-issued ID belonging to the requester. I write to express my
strong concern that the ID requirement presents serious legal and privacy concerns.
The FBI's new eFOIA system imposes a requirement that can neither be found in statutory law
nor case law. The FOIA statute does not require FOIA requestors to submit a govenunent-issued
ID, and the DC appellate court mled that even when a privacy waiver was required, requesters
need only attest to their identity under penalty of perjury. In addition, the FBl's eFOIA system
differs from that of other federal entities. For example, the Department of Homeland Security
does not require a photo ID of requestors, only an electronic signature attesting to the truth of the
information submitted for certain requests.
In light of the case law and statutory law, I would like to know why the FBI is requiring
government-issued IDs of FOIA requestors. Please also answer the following questions:
•
•

Why does the FBI not just require an electronic signature under penalty of perjury
regarding identity?
For how long does the FBI plan to retain the data from the ID scans? Who has access to
it? Are there minimization standards in place? Is any of the data being entered into facial
recognition databases?

Thank you for your time. I await your timely response to the above-mentioned questions as well
as any further context or information justifying what appears to be an overly intrusive and
unnecessary requirement.
Sincerely.
RONWYDEN
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