White House Sued For Inciting Online ‘Snitching’


Where did all of the personal information go?

A prominent physicians’ group and a non-profit organization that advocates for inner-city poor are suing the Obama administration for free speech and Privacy Act violations committed through a “snitch” program, in which people were asked to e-mail the White House at a special online address – flag@whitehouse.gov — any “fishy” information seen on the Web or received electronically about the President’s health plan.

In a 17-page complaint filed Aug. 27 in the U.S. District Court in Washington, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education charge that the White House has “unlawfully collected” information on political speech, thereby illegally using the power of the White House to “chill” opposition to its plans for health care reform. 

“The Defendants’ collection and maintenance of information on speech protected by the First Amendment chills the right of free speech, and Defendants intend that chilling effect,” the complaint reads.

AAPS and CURE are demanding that the White House and its Executive Office of the President (EOP), and the White House Health Reform Office remove and destroy any information already collected and that they be prohibited from collecting such personal data in the future.

“We’re asking for several things,” said Kathryn Serkes, director of policy and public affairs for AAPS, in a phone interview. “One: that they completely stop collecting personal data on people; two: that they don’t do this in the future; and three: that they expunge and destroy the information they’ve collected so far.”