A privacy rights group has filed a lawsuit against the US Office of Homeland Security (OHS) asking for documents concerning a possible government national ID system.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) said it is suing to obtain details of proposed national ID card legislation that would link state drivers' licence records to federal agency databases.
The legislation has reportedly been drafted by Governor Tom Ridge, head of the OHS, which falls under the jurisdiction of the White House.
Epic executive director March Rotenberg said: "The potential privacy implications of these proposals are far reaching.
"Under well established open record laws, Governor Ridge has an obligation to the American people to ensure that these decisions are made in the open."
Epic said it requested "expedited processing" of the Freedom of Information Act because of the urgency of the OHS recommendations.
Congress established this procedure in 1996 to speed the disclosure of information concerning matters of "current exigency to the American public".
Rotenberg also wrote to Senate Leader Tom Daschle and Minority Leader Trent Lott about the lawsuit.
The letter stated: "Despite a statutory obligation to render a decision on an expedition request within 10 days, the OHS has not responded to Epic's request.
"We submitted this request because of the enormous implications for privacy and civil liberties in America if such a system were deployed."
Epic general counsel David Sobel explained that the OHS is subject to the same record disclosure obligations as other federal agencies which engage in significant policy making.
"Here there is a particular urgency to inform the public about the Office's proposed activity as funding and legislative decisions are currently pending before Congress," he said.
Rotenberg and Sobel insisted that the information be released quickly to allow the public to form intelligent conclusions about the administration's proposals.
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