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Maryland Rule Violates Federal Privacy Act, Public Citizen to Tell Fourth Circuit

Jan. 21, 2016


Maryland Rule Violates Federal Privacy Act, Public Citizen to Tell Fourth Circuit

WHAT: An appeal on a data privacy case before the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On behalf of a local attorney, Public Citizen will argue that Maryland violated the federal Privacy Act by forcing attorneys to provide their Social Security numbers to the state bar authority.

The Privacy Act, enacted in 1974 to address concerns about privacy and identity theft, forbids federal, state and local government agencies from denying a person “any right, benefit, or privilege” because the person refuses to share his or her Social Security number. In 2013, Maryland revised its Rules of Procedure to require attorneys practicing law in Maryland to provide the numbers to the state bar.

In Tankersley v. Almand, Public Citizen represents attorney Michael Tankersley, who was licensed to practice in Maryland from 1986 to 2014. Tankersley, a former victim of identity theft, refused in 2014 to provide his Social Security number at the request of the Maryland bar on Privacy Act grounds. The Maryland Court of Appeals responded by suspending Tankersley’s license to practice law in Maryland.

In May 2014, Tankersley filed a suit alleging that the Maryland rule violates the Privacy Act and seeking to have his suspension set aside. In December 2014, a district court dismissed the case, holding that certain exceptions to the Privacy Act apply. In January 2015, on behalf of Tankersley, Public Citizen appealed the ruling to the Fourth Circuit. The case will be argued on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Learn more about the case.

WHEN: 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Jan. 27

WHERE: 1100 E Main St. #501, Richmond, Va.

WHO: Scott Michelman, attorney, Public Citizen