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

5 responses to “Open Letter to President Trump —#VETOHR4174

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  1. I pray this gets to him.

  2. I sent an email to President Trump requesting he veto this bill. Data-mining and “big data” are tools that can be used to destroy not only an individual but our country. I urge everyone to write the President and ask him to veto this bill.

  3. Pingback: Tell President Trump to VETO HR4174 | United States Parents Involved in Education


  5. If you are on Twitter, please do a hashtag search for #VetoFEPA and retweet the new ones every day. The media is not addressing this, so it is up to us to try to get people onboard to ask President Trump to veto this awful bill! There is a facebook page called Stop FEPA that has graphics, articles and videos that you can also use on Twitter and facebook to get the word out. PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS!

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