In response to the Supreme Court ruling Carpenter v. United States in 2018, whcih stated that law enforcement had to get a warrant to track people via their cell phones, elements of the US State Security Apparatus are purchasing exactly the same data from commercial suppliers without a warrant.
We need to make it illegal for US law enforcement to get private data from commercial suppliers that would otherwise require a warrant, if just because it would knock the pins out from underneath literal vampire* capitalist Peter Thiel’s business plan for Palantir.
Purchasing commercial information should not be allowed to be an excuse for using commercial vendor as a cut-out to the 4th amendment:
A military arm of the intelligence community buys commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps and searches it for Americans’ past movements without a warrant, according to an unclassified memo obtained by The New York Times.
Defense Intelligence Agency analysts have searched for the movements of Americans within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years, agency officials disclosed in a memo they wrote for Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.
The disclosure sheds light on an emerging loophole in privacy law during the digital age: In a landmark 2018 ruling known as the Carpenter decision, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution requires the government to obtain a warrant to compel phone companies to turn over location data about their customers. But the government can instead buy similar data from a broker — and does not believe it needs a warrant to do so.
“D.I.A. does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the agency memo said.
Mr. Wyden has made clear that he intends to propose legislation to add safeguards for Americans’ privacy in connection with commercially available location data. In a Senate speech this week, he denounced circumstances “in which the government, instead of getting an order, just goes out and purchases the private records of Americans from these sleazy and unregulated commercial data brokers who are simply above the law.”
It has been known that the government sometimes uses such data for law enforcement purposes on domestic soil.
The Wall Street Journal reported last year about law enforcement agencies using such data. In particular, it found, two agencies in the Department of Homeland Security — Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection — have used the data in patrolling the border and investigating immigrants who were later arrested.
The military has also been known to sometimes use location data for intelligence purposes.
In November, Vice’s Motherboard tech blog reported that Muslim Pro, a Muslim prayer and Quran app, had sent its users’ location data to a broker called X-Mode that in turn sold it to defense contractors and the U.S. military. Muslim Pro then said it would stop sharing data with X-Mode, and Apple and Google said they would ban apps that use the company’s tracking software from phones running their mobile operating systems.
Mr. Wyden’s coming legislation on the topic appears likely to be swept into a larger surveillance debate that flared in Congress last year before it temporarily ran aground after erratic statements by President Donald J. Trump, as he stoked his grievances over the Russia investigation, threatening to veto the bill and not making clear what would satisfy him.
The the 4th amendment should never be for sale.
*I do mean this characterization of Thiel literally. He is literally a vampire who wants to use the blood of the young to extend his lifespan.