House Judiciary Committee Passes Schiff Amendment to Provide Greater Privacy Protection Through Increased Congressional Oversight

Washington D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee yesterday took up a bill that would require federal agencies to inform the public of the impact on personal privacy of any proposed regulations.  The legislation would require agencies to provide notice about the collection of personal data stemming from any proposed rules and protect that data from misuse. The bill will provide agencies with an exemption from this requirement when national security is at risk.  Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) authored an amendment that would protect Americans’ privacy by granting Congress greater oversight authority when a national security waiver is used to withhold public disclosure.   

“There is no greater priority than ensuring our nation’s security, but I am confident that we can protect our country without sacrificing our civil liberties,” Schiff said.  “From stolen Veteran Affairs data files to data mining of phone records, far too many reports lately have centered on Americans’ privacy being compromised.  It is clear that more protections need to be put in place to safeguard our privacy and my amendment will do just that.”

The Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act (H.R. 2840) would require federal agencies to inform the public of any proposed policy changes.  However, when policy changes have national security implications, such as banking records or photo ID requirements, the legislation would permit federal agencies to waive or delay public disclosure.  Congressman Schiff’s amendment would require federal agencies to share information, in classified form, with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees any time an agency waives disclosure requirements due to national security concerns.  Congressman Schiff’s amendment and H.R. 2840 both passed the House Judiciary Committee, and now this legislation awaits consideration on the House Floor. 
Congressman Schiff co-founded the Democratic Study Group on National Security and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House International Relations Committee.  He is also a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles.  Schiff is proud to represent California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.