FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: FBI under fire for requiring photo ID

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Critics slam FBI’s new app that demands ID before sharing public data

RT, Dec. 5, 2015

The FBI’s new data-requesting eFOIA app comes with controversial terms: The agency wants your ID in exchange for the information. Critics argue that the FBI collecting the requesters’ sensitive information is “over the top” and likely illegal.

The Bureau presented its new application, eFOIA, earlier this week. According to an official press release, it is for “a new generation that’s not paper-based” who want to “obtain the FBI records a little quicker.” Previously, the FBI was accepting such requests only through regular mail, fax or e-mail.

However, the app comes with a new – and quite controversial – requirement: the FBI wants a photo of a requester’s government-issued ID first. Without it, the agency will not process a request and, thus, decline to share the information it must share under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

For its part, the Bureau said it needs the photo “so the FBI is confident in the identity of the requester.” However, no such ID is required when processing FOIA requests through other means.

This is where critics argue the FBI actually makes the process harder, not easier – and probably not safer, either.

“The FBI does not explain how people’s ID cards will be stored, used, or shared, except under its rather broad existing site-wide privacy policy,”investigative researcher Dave Maass wrote at The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He said this requirement should be “treated as a bug and excised from the new system.”

Read more here.