Wall Street Journal Exposes Private Companies’ Warrantless Access to “Vast” Quantities of Data on Behalf of Government
Civil libertarians across the ideological spectrum should take note of the revelations in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.
The Journal’s own reporting, as well as special counsel John Durham’s court filings against lawyer Michael Sussmann, show how academic researchers, private cybersecurity companies and security experts inside and outside the government can extract “vast quantities of data with little oversight or public awareness.”
“Academic and independent researchers are sometimes tapped to look at data and share any findings with the government without warrants or judicial authorization,” The Journal reports.
Most concerning, The Journal quotes CATO Institute senior fellow Julian Sanchez that the Durham filing highlights “the obscure ways that pools of data collected or analyzed by third parties – whether cybersecurity researchers or businesses looking to resell personal data – can land in government hands without being subjected to traditional warrant requirements.”
Sanchez said: “A question worth asking is: Who has access to large pools of telecommunications, metadata, such as DNS records, and under what circumstances can those be shared with the government?”
It is a good question indeed. It highlights how much we don’t know about the scale and purpose of the widespread government practice of purchasing Americans’ personal information from data brokers.
This latest report is just one more reason why it is urgent for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to hold hearings on how the government acquires data from data brokers and other sources.