Friday, March 5, 2010

Census confidentiality laws trump Patriot Act

Provisions of the Patriot Act pertaining to information-gathering and -sharing do not override federal confidentiality laws when it comes to the U.S. Census, the Justice Department said this week.

The clarification by government lawyers came at the request of minority lawmakers, who were seeking to allay the fears of constituents about the first national headcount since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the leaders of the congressional Asian Pacific, Black and Hispanic caucuses, Assistant Attorney General Ronald H. Weich said, "The long history of congressional enactments protecting [Census] information from such disclosure, as well as the established precedents of the courts and this department, supports the view that if Congress intended to override these protections, it would say so clearly and explicitly."

In this case, federal Census laws trump the Patriot Act, and the agency will keep information obtained during the headcount confidential and away from other departments, Weich said.

More HERE.

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