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WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Sens. Ron Wyden (D–Oregon) and Rand Paul (R–Kentucky), and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D–New York) and Zoe Lofgren (D–California), introduced a privacy bill in the Senate and House that would ban all government agencies from buying the personal information of people in the United States from data brokers without a court order. For years, federal agencies have exploited legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information without a court order and without congressional or judicial authorization.

The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act would close major loopholes in federal privacy laws — including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of all people in the United States.

The legislation would require federal agencies to get a court order to purchase data on people within the United States from data brokers. The bill would also stop police and intelligence agencies from buying data on people if the information was obtained from a user’s account or device, or via deception, hacking, violations of a contract, privacy policy or terms of service. Among other measures, the legislation would close loopholes that permit the intelligence community to buy metadata about people within the United States’ international calls, texts and emails, and obtain records about their web browsing of foreign websites — information that would normally require a court order to access.

Free Press Action Government Relations Director Sandra Fulton made the following statement:

“Every time federal agents buy data from unregulated and exploitative data brokers they’re violating the spirit of the Fourth Amendment. The intelligence community has manipulated legal loopholes to create a sweeping public-private surveillance mechanism that targets immigrants, people of color and other vulnerable communities. The bill is a much needed response to repeated abuses by federal agencies. These abuses include reports about ICE purchasing massive amounts of data from mobile applications, and the military purchasing data from a Muslim prayer application.

“We applaud Senator Wyden and Chairman Nadler for their leadership in introducing the Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act. It’s time we shut down these dangerous practices, and ensured that the Fourth Amendment is not a relic of the past.

“While there are strict rules for consumer-facing companies like AT&T, Facebook, Google and Verizon, loopholes in the law allow shady and discriminatory data brokers without direct relationships to consumers to sell our private information without any oversight. The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act would close these loopholes and stop federal agencies from doing an end-run around our constitutional rights.”

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