Requests for personal census data

Jason Smathers filed this request with the Census Bureau, Data Preparation Division of the United States of America.
Tracking # 11-073
Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Jason Smathers

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Any and all letters from government agencies, law
enforcement agencies, tax agencies or federal or state legislative
offices of any type requesting personal census data, and each response
from the Census Bureau to any such written or oral requests.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Jason Smathers
Filed via MuckRock.com
185 Beacon St. #3
Somerville, MA 02143

Daytime: (857) 488- 3081
E-mail: requests@muckrock.com

From: U.S. Census Bureau

From the Desk of Mary C. Potter, Chief, Freedom of Information Act and
Information Branch U.S. Census Bureau

December 3, 2010

Dear Mr. Smathers:

The U.S. Census Bureau received your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request

on: December 1, 2010.

We will process your request within the required 20 business days.

Your FOIA log number is: 11-073.

Your request is assigned to FOIA staff member: Rebecca Rubiera.

S/he can be reached at: 301-763-6741 or email:
rebecca.m.rubiera@census.gov.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact your FOIA staff
member.

Thank you,

Mary C. Potter
Chief, Freedom of Information Act and Information Branch
U.S. Census Bureau

From: United States Department of Commerce

From: U.S. Census Bureau

From the Desk of Mary C. Potter, Chief, Freedom of Information Act and
Information Branch U.S. Census Bureau

Attached is our response to your FOIA request 11-073.

(See attached file: Outgoing Interim Response 11-073 12-7-10.pdf)

From: Jason Smathers

My request was very specific. I agree to limit my request to records created on or after 9/11/2001. Please process this request or provide proper contact information for your appeals authority.

From: U.S. Census Bureau

Mr. Smathers,

Thank you for your clarification. We are continuing to process your
request.

Rebecca Rubiera
Office of Analysis and Executive Support
U.S. Census Bureau

From: U.S. Census Bureau

From: Jason Smathers

To: FOIAappeals@doc.gov
Subject: Freedom of Information Act Appeal / 11-073
Attachments: original request & fee request.

Assistant General Counsel for Administration,

On November 12, 2010, I made a FOIA request which was assigned FOIA Log number 11-073.

I requested to be billed according to the news media fee category. I will instead billed according to the "other requester" fee category. I appeal.

The news media fee category is appropriate because:
1) Attempts to access information believed to be confidential by government agents is of current interest to the public. I state this by knowledge and belief as a representative of the news media. The information requested in this FOIA request is of public interest.

2) I plan to write about attempts to access personal census data. I will be taking the records responsive to this FOIA request and turning it into a distinct work using my editorial skills. Please note, I plan to write on the subject, not simply post the records.

3) I am a writer for the publication, Witnesses Unto Me. Hundred of previous articles which I have written have been published by Witnesses Unto Me and I am assured publication in this case. My assurance of publication and track record of being published demonstrate that the information will be distributed to the general public.

Search fees are not permitted for members of the news media. Please continue processing my request without search fees.

The FOIA as amended in 2007 now reads:
(viii) An agency shall not assess search fees (or in the case of a requester described under clause (ii)(II), duplication fees) under this subparagraph if the agency fails to comply with any time limit under paragraph (6),

Your agency failed to meet the 20 business day time limit, nor did they request an additional 10 days as allowed by the FOIA in some cases. Failing to meet this deadline exempts all persons from search fees and further exempts news media from any fees. Therefore, duplication fees cannot be charged for this request.

Please process this request without charge as required by the Freedom of Information Act.

Regards,
Jason Smathers

From: U.S. Department of Commerce

Mr. Smathers-

Attached, please find our office’s letter acknowledging receipt of your e-mail objecting to the U.S. Census Bureau’s fee determination as it relates to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for personal census data (FOIA Log No. 11-073). As noted in the attached letter, your e-mail does not constitute a FOIA appeal because it did not include copies of your original FOIA request and Census’s fee determination as required by Department of Commerce regulations.

Sincerely,

Mark Tallarico, Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of General Counsel, General Law Division
14th & Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Ph: (202) 482-8156
Fax: (202) 482-2552
Email: MTallarico@doc.gov

From: MuckRock.com

Hi Mark,

Apologies.

Attached as a .txt file is the original request as well as the fee estimate. The process has been logged at MuckRock.com here:

http://www.muckrock.com/foi/view/united-states-of-america/requests-for-personal-census-data/233/

From: U.S. Department of Commerce

Mr. Smathers-

Thank you for forwarding the necessary information. For timeliness purposes, your FOIA appeal of Census's fee determination for FOIA Log 11-073 has been received as of today, February 15, 2011.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have with regard to your appeal.

Mark Tallarico, Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of General Counsel, General Law Division
14th & Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Ph: (202) 482-8156
Fax: (202) 482-2552
Email: MTallarico@doc.gov

From: U.S. Department of Commerce

From: Jason Smathers

Corinna,

Can you please add the Department of Commerce to the open case concerning the news media fee category? In response to my appeal, the Department of Commerce denied my request to be billed according to the news media fee category because I did not provide statistical data on the reach of my website. I do not believe FOIA or any agency guidelines provide a specific amount of readership required to be news media. Is a new newspaper news media only after they sell a certain number of copies? Does a New York Times reporter need to provide circulation data to be considered news media?

You can view the complete correspondence with the Department of Commerce here: http://www.muckrock.com/foi/view/united-states-of-america/requests-for-personal-census-data/233/

Best Regards,
Jason Smathers

From: Office of Government Information Services

Jason,

I can do that. I'm still awaiting your correspondence for FDIC, USMC, DHS, NSA and the others I might have missed. I have USSOCOM and now Commerce.

Regarding your CIA case, I have been in contact with their FOIA staff who was going to pull the records and get back to me. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get them to reconnect in almost two months. I'm working on pursuing other folks since this is turning into a dead end. I'll be in touch as soon as I have more. Thanks for your patience.

Corinna


--------------------------------
Corinna Zarek
Attorney Advisor
Office of Government
Information Services
8601 Adelphi Rd., Rm. 2510
College Park, MD 20740
Dir: 301.837.3788
Main: 301.837.1996
Fax: 301.837.0348

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Jennifer Goode, Ph.D. FOIA Public Liaison

Dear Mr. Jason Smathers,
I have been unable to reach you at (857) 488-3081 regarding Census Bureau FOIA 11-073.  Please respond to this email at your earliest convenience with the best time(s) you can be reached.

Thank you

From: Jason Smathers

The easiest way to contact me is via email. Please let me know the status of this request. Thanks!

From: Michael J. Toland, Ph.D. Freedom of Information Act Officer

Dear Mr. Smathers,

According to our records, this request has been closed.  Please feel free to contact us so that we can discuss this further.

From: Jason Smathers

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Any and all letters from government agencies, law enforcement agencies, tax agencies or federal or state legislative offices of any type requesting personal census data, and each response from the Census Bureau to any such written or oral requests.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

From: Census Bureau

Please see attached response.

From: Jason Smathers

Perhaps you can explain why you believe this search will take over 160 hours of time. I've never heard of such a thing before. In fact, I was told that your agency maintains one single file collecting these records. If my source is correct, then search time is nearly 0. If you can explain why you expect the search time to be so great, perhaps we can narrow it more.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock

Hello,

There has been no update on this request for nearly two months. Please advise.

Thank you.

From: Muckrock

Please respond to the message left on your office's voicemail regarding request 11-073.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock

Once again, there has been no response to this request whatsoever in several months. Please advise as to its status immediately.

Thank you.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 17, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #11-073.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

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