PPSA has followed the growing practice of the federal government to get around the Constitution’s pesky requirement for a probable cause warrant. Several agencies and the military are accessing Americans’ digital data the old fashioned way – they just buy it from data brokers.
There are now signs of concern about this practice within the government. A report today reveals that the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General is probing the department’s use of purchased data to track Americans without a warrant. This audit seeks “to determine if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its components have developed, updated, and adhered to policies related to cell-phone surveillance devices.”
This probe was revealed in a response to a letter sent by a group of senators, including privacy champion Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The probe will examine whether DHS’s practices lie within the boundaries set by the landmark Supreme Court case, Carpenter v. United States, which requires the government to obtain a warrant to search cell phone location information. This latest audit comes in addition to a previously known inquiry by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General aimed at similar practices in the Internal Revenue Service.