Session One: Computerized
Data Bases Containing
Data Base Study -- Request to Participate, P974806
ACES, the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support, Inc., requests the opportunity to participate in the Commission's Data Base Workshop of the Consumer Privacy 1997 program.
ACES is a non-profit organization in Toledo, Ohio. ACES is dedicated to assisting disadvantaged children who are negatively affected by parents who fail to meet legal and moral child support and visitation obligations. The organization aids members/clients in locating non-custodial former spouses.
ACES was founded in March 1984 and now has chapters in 49 states. Overall, the organization serves 300 counties and 25,000 members nationwide by providing educational information concerning child support and visitation. The education includes information about legal rights and remedies, state or local agency identification, and methods available under current law to collect current and back child support.
Question 1.7: Who has access to the information in the data base?
ACES and its clients (both custodial parents and children of divorced parents) have, and benefit from, access to person locator data bases. ACES obtains access to person locator data bases for use by case workers and staff members who assist custodial parents in the enforcement and collection of child support payments. The information gathered is and distributed in raw form.
Question 1.9. What are the uses of the information in the data bases? Are there beneficial uses of the information in these data bases? Are there risks associated with the compilation, sale and use of this information?
Information from our sources is used to assist families to locate those who have failed to meet legal child support obligations. There are 29 million children in the U.S. owed $35 billion in unpaid child support. Non-support is one of the leading causes of poverty among children and welfare dependency.
ACES obtains the information for our members/clients, 85% of whom are single income parents. Our members/clients use the information to pursue collection of child support payments, They can give the location information to their government child support enforcement agency, private attorney or represent themselves in a court action based on the Information. The information found on the LEXIS-NEXIS system often provides an address so that the non-paying parent can be served legal documents for a court hearing or it provides information about the non-payors' property so that a lien can be placed on the property to ensure child support payments. The data also is used in criminal nonsupport cases by local prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department.
In the past 10 years, ACES has been able to assist over 25,000 families in determining the location of absent parents who owe child support by using some type of on-line data. This translates into families collecting, on average, $4,000 per year in child support and enables 88% of our clients on welfare to become self sufficient when child support payments were joined with available earned income.
ACES knows of no risks associated with having access to the data. Our members/clients have court orders for child support or have open cases at government agencies and are in the process of obtaining a child support order. Non-payors who are located due to the information from the data base, are served legal notices and have a right to notice and hearing. This allows non-payors to protect themselves from action taken if a factual mistake has occurred.
Question 1.17: How should the benefits of the collection, compilation, sale and use of these data bases be balanced against privacy or other legal interests implicated by such practices? Are there other ways to obtain these benefits without implicating privacy or other legal interests? If so, please describe?
ACES members/clients who are consumers of the information obtained view as essential finding information about absent parents who have abandoned their children. The ability to obtain this data literally means that fewer children will go to bed hungry. The need for the information and the value to the children and society out weigh any privacy issues related to the use of this product.
If you have any questions regarding child support enforcement issues, you should feel free to contact me at your convenience.