Archive for December 2018

Open Letter to President Trump —#VETOHR4174   5 comments


Dear President Trump, 

There’s danger in the “Evidence Based Policy” bill that the majority of Congress just passed— oddly without any hearing or any debate— which you now will either sign into law or veto. I’m praying you’ll veto; praying you’ll remember your campaign promise in New Hampshire to protect privacy rights. You said, responding to Ann Marie Banfield, “Close the loopholes… you gotta have privacy, you gotta have privacy.” The American soul agrees with your statement.

But HR4174 dramatically alters and harms privacy rights for Americans. The bill’s fact sheet should be called a deceit sheet instead; it says that no new federal database will be created, but fails to mention that by linking all federal and state agencies, by mandating tech interoperability and by making no proper protections for personally identifiable information, no provision for informed consent of pii being shared between agencies, this bill sets up a system using databases already in existence that’s as real as the new federal database that the fact sheet promises isn’t being made. 

I’ve followed the public meetings of the commission that created this bill, the Commission for Evidence-based Policy (CEP). Buried inside lengthy, incredibly boring hours of audio, were some very important revelations about the purposes and goals of the CEP, and of this bill. For example, when one attendee asked CEP leadership whether linking pii (personal individual data) between agencies such as the Social Security Agency, Census office, etc., might alarm privacy minded Americans, the response was that this initiative must move patiently, and not “rip off the band-aid” from the American people. In other words, CEP leadership was potently aware that this initiative was extreme and shocking, or could be.

As Dr. Karen Effrem pointed out, a government that has access to virtually unlimited, personal data about its citizens, collected by thousands institutions— and private businesses, too— has an intimidating effect on its freeborn citizens, even if it never uses the information against them. 

As privacy expert Barmak Nassirian said of this type of legislation:

“Tracking autonomous free individuals through most of their lives in the name of better information for the benefit of others may be justifiable, but its extremism should at the very least be acknowledged and addressed.”

The bill’s fact sheet neither acknowledges nor addresses its extreme disfiguring effect on American future privacy. 

Why not? It’s the same reason that the bill was passed during the Christmas break, under the radar, without the light of debate or any hearing, the very reason CEP leadership said they mustn’t “rip off the bandaid” obviously.

The bill is sooo very long— of course— and written in a deliberately uninteresting way; unnecessary lengthiness and wordiness discourage anyone from reading or understanding it. Its deceptive and Swiss Cheese holed fact sheet, as well as its (unenforceable) lip service to privacy rights, has further confused congressional reps. 

It’s not confusing to the CEP, which created the bill. Its goals have been crystal clear from day one. In its public meetings, CEP openly and repeatedly stated that research and data collection were of vital, almost worshipful, import. 

Nothing else, not state laws, not agency policy, not even (consent of the governed) individual privacy rights—- nothing must be permitted to block the collection of data for research and evidence building, said CEP.

But I ask you, President Trump, is the value of voluminous data, even for the noblest of causes, higher than the value of liberty?

Privacy really matters —much more than we happy Americans often realize. I think about communist countries such as China, where privacy rights are gone. There, citizens are tracked and are given behavior modification reward or penalty points that impact their lives. If a citizen exercises free speech, criticizing the government, and loses points, that citizen may no longer have simple rights, like the simple right to ride the public bus. How would the Chinese government know that an individual criticized the government, and alert the bus system, without inter-agency linking such as HR4174 creates? It would not have been possible. 

Now, in China, they could be collecting evidence for noble causes, too: the bank robber or rapist might be excluded from the bus along with the disgruntled freedom lover. There are always two sides to every coin. 

Remember the recent IRS scandal when businesses who used terms like “patriotic” were targeted by the agency’s list called “BOLO” (Be On Look Out). They were horribly dominated and harassed by corrupt power holders at IRS. 

How would similar harassments roll out under HR 4174, with increased access by “researchers” using inter-agency databases containing personal information on individuals and children— including, for example, religious, gender, political or financial standing? 

Which side of this coin are you on? Is it efficiency and big data access, Big Brother style? Or is it individual rights and unhack-able, local control? 

The question isn’t whether federal evidence building will end up mostly helping, or unintentionally hurting, the people it is written to govern. A more essential question is, does Washington have the right to access and grant others’ access to collected evidence on me or you— without informed consent by the individual?

I say, no!

Please, please veto.


Christel Swasey

Plead for President Trump to Veto HR 4174   5 comments

Even though Americans cannot call the White House today (the answering machine says it’s due to the shutdown) we can tweet @POTUS @WhiteHouse @RealDonaldTrump —or send an email. (Scroll to the bottom of this article for easy contact links).

Please alert (plead with) President Trump to veto this already passed bill, HR 4174, that Congress passed WITHOUT a hearing, so stealthily, during the Christmas break when supposedly none of us are paying attention.

—Except that some are!  Like the barking dogs who sent the alarm down the valley to alert others that Cruella DeVil was doing her evil, please join us and be a barking dog today.

If President Trump gets this message, he can veto.

Word of mouth, person to person, tends to be stronger than marketing initiatives.

Even if Trump doesn’t veto in time, Americans need to become aware quickly about what this bill will do. So bark!

HR 4174 doesn’t promote informed consent by individuals for agencies taking personally identifiable information for “sharing.” It promotes data sharing across federal agencies and between state and federal entities. HR 4174 will not make America great again! It will make America more like communist China, less like the America of liberty and justice for all, because its whole point is to collect EVIDENCE on you and me, and to create evidence-based policies, based on one-size-fits-all, federal moral values.

Do you want to give your own and your child’s and your neighbor’s privacy away —to public-private research partnerships, whom you never elected and cannot fire?  Do you want all agencies to alter their databases to make them all interoperable and therefore much more in danger of huge scale hacking?!

This bill comes from the CEP (Commission for Evidence Based Policy) which formed thanks to Patty Murray, Paul Ryan and Obama a few years ago with a mission to consolidate ALL data of ALL Americans from ALL sources into one “central clearinghouse”.

Now, the fact sheet on the bill denies that it’s creating a new, central, federal data repository.  This is on the surface of the words, true.  But linking thousands of federal and state agencies’ data interoperably IS creating a new system that actually operates as a new federal repository— of data not given by individual informed consent. That’s flat out theft— especially in the context of the CEP’s history and stated goals (such as getting rid of protective student unit record bans).

The title of the commission, and of this bill, sounds innocuous. Evidence based policy making.  But even back when the CEP was first organized, even though it came in part from Republican Paul Ryan, I was in full panic mode, and wrote about CEP’s goals and meetings, a lot. Search this blog.

Now the CEP’s privacy dismissing plot is to become US law (unless we see a veto from President Trump).

People won’t be able to ignore its effects.

When ALL data from ALL sources gets combined (for research purposes only, they promise us) into the de facto central clearinghouse, freedom can quickly go away.

The CEP wants access for officials and researchers to ALL DATA.  This is not anonymous data, but Pii (Personally Identifiable Information) on children and adults from everywhere—every US school, every test and tech based report or assignment, data from every document held by public private partnerships including preschools, hospitals, foster families, the social security department, criminal justice departments, both state and federal; the IRS, the CIA, the FBI, the EPA, the TSA, student loans, colleges, universities, including private corporations in public private partnerships, and much much more. When personal data is accessible to a “researcher” or bureaucrat, whether a legitimate policy maker or a nefarious hack, without YOUR informed consent, that’s very, very, exceptionally bad news.

Without revisiting too many historical CEP conference details —you can read those by searching CEP on this blog— just let me share one telling fact that has always stuck out in my mind…

(And yes, this is an appropriate time to be freaking out and taking action)—

This I can not forget:

One of the top dogs at the CEP said— during one of the endless, hours-long conferences that CEP held— that the CEP mustn’t  act too FAST in its research-based enthusiasm to take over Americans’ data. That, he said, would be “RIPPING OFF the band-aid” (of privacy)  from the American people. (Too obvious! Someone might notice.)

Well, some of us do notice.  President Trump, please notice!

Veto. Veto. Veto.




Here’s Dr. Effrem’s article for more information:



Please tweet @POTUS @WhiteHouse @RealDonaldTrump to ask Pres. Trump to veto this bill.
The switchboard is not taking calls, but you can call your local congressional representative in-state, and send an email to Trump at
Please also send an email to Rep. Hice thanking him for his wisdom and courage in voting no.



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