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FOIA / Privacy Act and Acxiom Requests

Inspired by Andy Boyle’s FBI FOI/PA request on himself, and partially driven by my own morbid curiosity…

And inspired by a recent New York Times article regarding Acxiom, one of the largest consumer-targeting database marketing operations…

I’m sending Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act requests to the FBI, CIA, and NSA for records regarding myself and Onion Browser. Additionally, I’ve requested my U.S. Reference Information Report from Acxiom.

I’m mainly interested in:

  1. What exactly is contained in Acxiom’s commercialized “consumer targeting” databases?
  2. How does that compare to anything that may come up in a FOI/PA request?
  3. All jokes aside, did any attention actually come to Onion Browser during the post-release buzz? (At the height of it I’d noticed some .onion http_referer traffic on sites I’d rather not talk about, so there’s always a possibility of a mention in a page that was scraped or collected.)

FOI/PA letterhead to FBI

FOI/PA letterhead to CIA

FOI/PA letterhead to NSA

  1. Any records on, about, mentioning, or concerning myself. […]
  2. Any records (not included in 1) on, about, mentioning, or concerning the TOR (The Onion Router) anonymizing network (“TOR network”) which also reference myself. […]
  3. Any records on, about, mentioning, or concerning the software “Onion Browser”: an anonymizing web browser for the iOS platform (iPhone, iPad, etc.) which utilizes the TOR network. Variations of name include “OnionBrowser” and “OnionBrowser”. […]

The full content of these letters (with my personal information redacted) is available here.

The Acxiom request was filed online as per Acxiom’s instructions, and I printed a screenshot of my filled-out form along with a letter to go with my $5 processing fee.

Request to Acxiom

A response (though not necessarily the requested information) is required within 20 days of receipt of a Freedom of Information Act request (5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)).

Acxiom (as a private company) is under no obligation to respond in a timely fashion, and the New York Times article even mentions their own difficulty with their request:

On May 25, the reporter submitted an online request to Acxiom for her file, along with a personal check, sent by Express Mail, for the $5 processing fee. Three weeks later, no response had arrived.

I’ll keep y’all updated.