ACLU sues in NJ over FBI ethnic data collection

AP News
Posted: May 04, 2011 6:52 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit in New Jersey Wednesday over the FBI's collection of racial and ethnic data in local communities.

In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, the ACLU said it filed a Freedom of Information Act request in July seeking the release of records about the FBI's "mapping" of local communities under the Domestic Intelligence Operations Guide.

The complaint alleges the FBI sent back some documents in December that were improperly redacted and has failed to release any more since then.

An ACLU-New Jersey spokeswoman said more than 30 ACLU branches around the country filed similar requests for documents and are considering legal action. The organization said the FBI program raises civil rights concerns.

The FBI had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

The complaint said that under the domestic intelligence directive, the FBI is permitted to identify locations of "concentrated ethnic communities," and analyze racial and ethnic demographics and data about "ethnic-oriented businesses" and cultural traditions.

The ACLU claims the collection of that information could lead to illegal and unconstitutional racial profiling.