According to a report by Josh Gerstein of Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction the Electronic Privacy Information Center sought against the panel formally known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. EPIC sought to force President Donald Trump’s controversial voter fraud commission (formally known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity) to conduct a privacy assessment before gathering data on millions of American voters.
The panel initially asked states to upload that data to a site hosted by the Defense Department, potentially implicating federal laws covering executive branch agencies. The panel is now having the information collected by the White House itself (see Trump voter commission to store data on White House computers under Pence staff direction), effectively avoiding the impact of those federal statutes.
In a 35-page opinion Monday, Kollar-Kotelly said the commission and a White House information technology office did not appear to qualify as federal agencies and therefore did not trigger the requirement for a privacy impact assessment: “Given the factual circumstances presently before the Court—which have changed substantially since this case was filed three weeks ago—Defendants’ collection of voter roll information does not currently involve agency action.”
The opinion states: “Defendants have represented that they are only collecting voter information that is already publicly available under the laws of the states where the information resides; and Defendants have clarified that such information, to the extent it is made public, will be de-identified. All of these representations were made to the
Court in sworn declarations, and needless to say, the Court expects that Defendants shall strictly abide by them.”
Kollar-Kotelly also noted that “to the extent that factual circumstances change – for example, of the de jure or de facto powers of the Commission expand beyond those of a purely advisory body – this determination may need to be revisited.”