A recent article by Dell Cameron at Wired reports on ongoing congressional efforts to close the federal loophole allowing police and intelligence authorities to collect sensitive personal data from United States citizens without a warrant, subpoena, or court order.
The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, sponsored by Representative Warren Davidson with bipartisan support, would prevent government entities from purchasing Americans’ personal data without court authorization, dramatically restricting a practice that even the Director of National Intelligence admits has tremendous potential for abuse. The bill passed out of committee with flying colors following markup.
In Wired, Cameron aptly explains the many controversies surrounding this issue, including the ongoing game of legal pretzel logic the government has used to justify its continued purchase of consumer data for law enforcement purposes. As the author points out, not only can the government access these data, so too can private companies and foreign actors.
But, as PPSA Senior Policy Advisor Bob Goodlatte notes in the piece, it’s our own governing authorities with which we should be most concerned.
Goodlatte said, “None of those other entities can arrest you, can charge you with a crime, try you, sentence you, imprison you, restrain you, enjoin you, fine you, tax you. All of those are powers of government, and any American should be concerned about the ease with which the federal government can gather information about people.”
With the biggest privacy battle of the year yet to come in the form of reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Fourth Amendment advocates can take comfort that these issues are getting the attention – and coverage – they deserve.