A 2011 document demonstrates that “Fusion Center concerns” about using eGuardian prompted the FBI to change the system’s data retention policy “from 30 years to 5 years (followed by a 5-year archive period).” Yet, a 2013 Government Accountability Office report recently confirmed that there is continuing cause for concern because even after Suspicious Activity Reports are deleted from eGuardian, the FBI retains the reports for at least an additional 30 years in another location.
Government documents obtained by the ACLU show that nationwide programs that collect so-called “Suspicious Activity Reports” provide inadequate privacy safeguards and guidance on the definition of “suspicious activity,” leading to violations of Americans’ First Amendment and privacy rights, and to racial and religious profiling.
In August 2011, the ACLU filed ACLU v. FBI, a lawsuit to enforce a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records about the FBI eGuardian program, a nationwide system of collecting and sharing so-called “suspicious activity reports” (“SARs”) from the public and law enforcement and intelligence officials across the country. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and National Security Agency (NSA) initially failed to release any records, and DOJ insisted it had no independent obligation to even search for information because eGuardian is run by the FBI. Although the FBI partially released a handful of records, they represented only a fraction of…
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