Federal and state agencies traditionally obtain information for law enforcement purposes using a variety of methods including:
- court issued subpoenas,
- grand jury subpoenas,
- search warrants,
- litigation discovery requests, and
- administrative subpoenas.1
If you receive a government request for personal information, consider the following steps and questions:
- Does your organization maintain an internal procedure or protocol for how to respond to a government information request?
- Has your organization made any representations to consumers that might be interpreted as indicating that information will not be provided to the government?
- Was the information request actually issued by the agency that purported to issue it (independently confirm with the issuing agency that the request is authentic)?
- Confirm that the issuing agency does, in fact, want you to produce personal information.
- Has the government agency provided notice of the request to the people about whom the information relates?
- Does the request include a legal basis (an authorizing statute) for making the information request? If so, does the authorizing statute permit the agency to obtain the type of information requested?
- Does the authorizing statute require the agency to comply with a specific procedural process prior to requesting the information? If so, has the agency complied?
- Will complying with the information request pose an undue burden on your organization?
- Has the request been issued, or reviewed, by a court?
- What opportunities does your organization have to negotiate with the agency to limit the quantity of personal information produced and/or to seek administrative or judicial review concerning the agency’s need to obtain personal information?
Did you know? 335: Number of federal authorities that permit various federal agencies to issue administrative subpoenas2