Congress is reviewing how certain federal agencies can access your personal data – WFTV


WASHINGTON, DC — Your digital footprint can be bought and sold by data brokers and there are now some concerns that include the federal government.


“Investigative journalists have discovered that federal agencies secretly pay data brokers to gain access to vast amounts of Americans’ personal data, including the location of cellphones,” said Elizabeth Goitein, the program’s senior director. Liberty & National Security at the Brennan Center for Justice.

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Goitein said some federal agencies are finding loopholes around a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that requires law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant to access your cellphone location history.

“The court held that such information may reveal the most intimate details of a person’s life, associations, habits, and even beliefs.” said Goitein. “Also, there’s really nothing voluntary about sharing this information because cell phones aren’t optional in modern society.”

Documents recently released by the ACLU show that ICE and other parts of the US Department of Homeland Security covertly purchased location data.

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Going forward, some advocates are urging Congress to pass the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act, which would bar government agencies from accessing personal data without a court order.

“America’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies will always have powerful legal tools at their fingertips to pursue leads that may catch terrorists, spies and dangerous criminals. They’ll just have to follow the rules,” said Bob Goodlatte, senior policy adviser at the Project for Privacy & Surveillance Accountability.

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan echoes the need to crack down on this issue.

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“This must include us looking at the government’s access to commercially available bulk data and its use of tools like PEGUS that allow them to spy on encrypted mobile devices,” Rep. Jordan said. “It should also lead us to consider restrictions on the government’s use of facial recognition technology in the United States to target citizens.”

We contacted ICE and the Department of Homeland Security this afternoon and an ICE spokesperson said they are working on this request. We haven’t heard back from DHS.

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