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WASHINGTON — Nineteen national and local digital-justice and civil-rights groups submitted a letter for the record in advance of Tuesday’s House Judiciary hearing on “Digital Dragnets: Examining the Government’s Access to Your Personal Data.” 

The groups are members of the Disinfo Defense League (DDL), a national network of organizers, researchers and disinformation experts that works to address online disinformation and privacy violations targeting Black, Latinx, Asian American, Pacific Islander and other communities of color. 

The groups call on all committee members to take action to protect online privacy and curtail the spread of racialized disinformation. “We are deeply concerned by systemic problems posed by the complex set of digital tactics, extractive data practices, and manipulative tech platform and app designs that undermine confidence in our democracy, sow distrust among Americans in our public health institutions, disenfranchise voters, and chill engagement for our communities,” the letter reads.

The groups are calling on committee members to advance the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, legislation that would prohibit data merchants from selling personal user information to government authorities without a legal warrant. 

“The Disinfo Defense League has long championed this legislation in our Policy Platform, sounding the alarm about nefarious data practices which violate our fundamental privacy rights,” the letter reads. “The DDL platform codifies policy principles designed to rein in technology companies’ extractive data practices and to safeguard privacy and civil rights on social media platforms with comprehensive digital-privacy measures.”

“The committee should put a stop to government end runs around our fundamental right to privacy,” said Free Press Action’s Nora Benavidez. "The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act closes that legal loophole and ensures that law enforcement and intelligence agencies can’t get to your personal data without a proper warrant. Enacting this legislation would stop this flagrant abuse of our privacy and shut down a clandestine business sector that often targets communities of color and exploits their constitutional rights for profit.” 

“Even before the creation of the post-9/11 security state, American Muslims — particularly Black Muslims — have been surveilled, tracked, put on lists and needlessly reported to law enforcement,” said Sumayyah Waheed of Muslim Advocates. “Today, our communities face not only that but also the threat of prayer apps harvesting data on their location and activities to be sold to law enforcement and even the Pentagon by unscrupulous data brokers. Congress must take action to protect the privacy rights of American Muslims. A vital first step is passing the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act.”

The 19 groups that signed the letter are Access Humboldt, Access Now, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Center for Countering Digital Hate, Common Cause, Fight for the Future, Filipino Young Leaders Program, Free Press Action, Indivisible Bainbridge Island, Indivisible Plus Washington, Lower Columbia Indivisible, MediaJustice, Muslim Advocates, New Georgia Project Action Fund, NYU Cybersecurity for Democracy, Snohomish County Indivisible, UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, Voto Latino and WA People's Privacy Network.

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