The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

ACLU Seeks Records About FBI Collection Of Racial And Ethnic Data In 29 States And D.C.

FBI's Claimed Authority To Track And Map "Behaviors" And "Lifestyle Characteristics" Of American Communities Invites Racial Profiling


The American Civil Liberties Union today
is asking the FBI field offices in 29 states and Washington, D.C. to
turn over records related to the agency's collection and use of race and
ethnicity data in local communities. According to an FBI operations
guide, FBI agents have the authority to collect information about and
create maps of so-called "ethnic-oriented" businesses, behaviors,
lifestyle characteristics and cultural traditions in communities with
concentrated ethnic populations. While some racial and ethnic data
collection by some agencies might be helpful in lessening
discrimination, the FBI's attempt to collect and map demographic data
using race-based criteria for targeting purposes invites
unconstitutional racial profiling by law enforcement, says the ACLU.

"The FBI's mapping of local
communities and businesses based on race and ethnicity, as well as its
ability to target communities for investigation based on supposed racial
and ethnic behaviors, raises serious civil liberties concerns," said
Michael German, ACLU policy counsel and former FBI agent. "Creating a
profile of a neighborhood for criminal law enforcement or domestic
intelligence purposes based on the ethnic makeup of the people who live
there or the types of businesses they run is unfair, un-American and
will certainly not help stop crime."

The FBI's power to collect, use and
map racial and ethnic data in order to assist the FBI's "domain
awareness" and "intelligence analysis" activities is described in the
2008 FBI Domestic Intelligence and Operations Guide (DIOG). The FBI
released the DIOG in heavily redacted form in September 2009, but a
less-censored version was not made public until January of this year, in
response to a lawsuit filed by the group Muslim Advocates. Although the
DIOG has been in effect for more than a year and a half, very little
information is available to the public about how the FBI has implemented
this authority.

ACLU affiliate offices across the
nation today are filing coordinated Freedom of Information Act requests
to uncover records about the FBI's collection and use of racial and
ethnicity data from their local FBI field offices. The requests were
filed by the ACLU affiliates in Alabama, Arkansas, California (Northern,
Southern and San Diego), Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C.,
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

"The public deserves to know about a
race-based domestic intelligence program with such troubling
implications for civil rights and civil liberties," said Melissa
Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "We
hope that the coordinated efforts of ACLU affiliates across the nation
will finally bring this important information to light so that the
American people can know the extent of the FBI's racial data gathering
and mapping practices and whether the agency is abusing its authority."

The DIOG provisions in question are
available online at:

The entire DIOG is at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666