University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Electronic Privacy Information Center v. United States Dep't of Commerce PB-DC-0008
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-02711 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
On November 20, 2018, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an independent non-profit research center dedicated to privacy and civil liberties issues, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case was assigned to District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ... read more >
On November 20, 2018, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an independent non-profit research center dedicated to privacy and civil liberties issues, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case was assigned to District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich. The plaintiff sued the United States Department of Commerce and its agency, the Bureau of the Census, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Declaratory Judgment Act.

EPIC, represented by its own in-house counsel, alleged that the Census Bureau’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census without conducting and publishing Privacy Impact Assessments that analyze how citizenship data will be handled, was in violation of the APA and the E-Government Act of 2002. The plaintiff specifically alleged that the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau failed to conduct and publicly release a “legally sufficient” Privacy Impact Assessment for the “collection, processing, and storage” of personally identifiable citizenship data on the 2020 Census, as required by the E-Government Act.

The plaintiff sought injunctive and declaratory relief. Specifically, EPIC sought to compel Department to create and publish Privacy Impact Assessment, and requested that the Court enjoin the Commerce Department from including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census until the Department has published a “full and complete” Privacy Impact Assessment.

On January 18, 2019, the plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction. On February 8, the Court denied the plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the Commerce Department from including the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. 2019 WL 498520.

The Court found that the plaintiff did not have a high likelihood of success on the merits - the touchstone of the preliminary injunction inquiry. The Court reasoned that plaintiff did not have a high likelihood of success on the merits, because the Bureau did not act contrary to the E-Government Act by deciding to collect citizenship data before conducting, reviewing, or releasing a PIA addressing that decision.

EPIC immediately appealed. The case is ongoing both in the district court and on appeal.

Michael Beech - 02/16/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) United States Census Bureau
Plaintiff Description Electronic Privacy Information Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Electronic Privacy Information Center v. United States Dep't of Commerce
Date: February 11, 2019
(Brennan Center for Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:18-cv-02711 (D.D.C.)
PB-DC-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/13/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-DC-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/20/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Injunction [ECF# 16] (2019 WL 498520) (D.D.C.)
PB-DC-0008-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/08/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Friedrich, Dabney Langhorne (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0008-0002 | PB-DC-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Butler, Alan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0008-0001 | PB-DC-0008-9000
Davisson, John L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0008-0001 | PB-DC-0008-9000
Rotenberg, Marc (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0008-0001 | PB-DC-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Borson, Joseph Evan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0008-9000
Wolfe, Kristina Ann (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-DC-0008-9000

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