FBI Confesses to Purchasing American Citizens’ Data Without Consent for the First Time

The FBI has authorized the purchase of US citizens’ location data collected by some smartphone apps. This confession angered privacy activists, especially since the bureau obtained that data without obtaining a judicial warrant.

The acknowledgment came through a statement released by Christopher Wray, director of the bureau, during a Senate hearing on global threats. Ray confirmed that the bureau had previously purchased the said information for a national security project that he did not specify, but said the FBI had discontinued this practice and that the bureau was currently obtaining data needed for the investigation. in an authorized manner.

This is the first time the bureau has admitted to purchasing location data on US citizens without obtaining a court order. This confirmed the suspicions of human rights groups, which have long expressed their concern about the FBI’s violation of citizens’ privacy.

The US Supreme Court had previously ruled that access by government agencies to US citizens’ location data without official permission was a violation of Article IV of the US Constitution. However, the ruling left a legal loophole that several federal agencies, including the US Customs and Border Protection and the Defense Intelligence Agency, have exploited. It was also known that in past the Department of Homeland Security had purchased location data on US citizens from marketing firms private.

Predictably, the admissions have angered rights activists and privacy groups, who say such actions by the FBI and other investigators could have serious consequences for the digital freedom and privacy of American citizens.

In a statement to Ars Technica, the prosecutor senior EFF’s Adam Schwartz said: “US government agencies should not be allowed to circumvent Article IV of the Constitution by acquiring intelligence private from data brokers who harvest information about the precise movements of hundreds of millions of people without their actual knowledge or consent.” This highly sensitive information can reveal where we live, work, who we interact with, worship, manifest, and seek medical care.”

Sean Vitka, a lawyer with the civil liberties advocacy group Demand Progress, called the FBI’s actions horrific: “The public should know who gave the via free to these purchases, why and what others have done or are trying to do the same thing.