After House Passes Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, ACLU Urges Senate to Stop Government from Spying on Americans Without a Warrant

April 17, 2024 6:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted 219-199 to pass the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, which would ban the government from purchasing Americans’ data from data brokers that they would otherwise need a warrant to obtain, including location and internet records. This vote comes just days after the House passed one of the most dramatic expansions of warrantless government surveillance since the Patriot Act. Both bills are now with the Senate.

When the government wants to obtain Americans’ private information, like where they live, what doctor’s office they visited, or who they are dating, the Fourth Amendment requires it to go to court and obtain a warrant. But for years now, federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Defense, have been buying their way around this requirement by purchasing Americans’ sensitive information from data brokers. These companies often obtain this information through common applications, like The Weather Channel or Tinder, without users realizing it, and then the government uses it to track people’s location without a warrant or probable cause — or even suspicion that anyone in the dataset had done anything wrong.

“The bipartisan passage of this bill is a flashing warning sign to the government that if it wants our data, it must get a warrant,” said Kia Hamadanchy, senior policy counsel at ACLU. “We hope this vote puts a fire under the Senate to protect their constituents and rein in the government’s warrantless surveillance of Americans, once and for all.”

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