Today, Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act—a bill that would close a current backdoor to the fourth amendment. The fourth amendment protects you against warrantless search and seizure, but with current practices, federal agencies and law enforcement are able to buy your data directly from shady data brokers without your knowledge or a warrant. This practice is currently 100% legal. With Wyden’s bill we can close this loophole— the government should not be able to buy their way around your civil liberties.
Data brokers mine data from your phone and online presence, often via apps you use, and sell that information off to the highest bidder. As is often the case, these constitutionally questionable practices tend to target marginalized populations first—with agencies like ICE and CBP using location data from apps to target undocumented immigrants. In a horrifying example of how surveillance is often aimed at historically-marginalized groups, apps marketed towards Muslims have been known to collaborate with federal agencies—selling location data mined by Predicio to federal agencies like ICE and CBP.
This bill would also effectively stop agencies from purchasing data from the controversial law enforcement contractor Clearview AI. Clearview AI has been known to scrape data from social media for its facial recognition databases, and then pass that information on to law enforcement (for a price, obviously)—again, all without law enforcement ever needing a warrant.
While agencies like ICE and DHS will say that this practice is perfectly legal and not a violation of the fourth amendment, they are still collecting American’s private information without a warrant—something which the fourth amendment specifically protects against. Just because an agency is going through a private company does not mean those fourth amendment protections do not apply.
Wyden’s bill would require law enforcement agencies procure a warrant before purchasing data from data brokers, much the same way they’re required to procure a warrant before conducting physical searches or accessing your email. Congress has often been slow to respond to our ever-evolving digital landscape, but it’s time for a change.
Sign our petition urging congress to support The 4th Amendment is Not For Sale Act: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-pass-the-4th-amendment-is-not-for-sale-act.