US government agencies have been buying, to some degree, details of Americans' internet activities from data brokers – and US Senator Ron Wyden (D-O

Federal agencies buying Americans' internet data challenged by US senators

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2022-09-23 18:30:34

US government agencies have been buying, to some degree, details of Americans' internet activities from data brokers – and US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants an explanation.

On Wednesday, Wyden wrote a letter [PDF] to the inspectors general for the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice to request that the agency watchdogs look into the warrantless purchase of Americans' internet traffic data.

In America, the Fourth Amendment protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures, which is why law enforcement agencies generally need to obtain a warrant before they can demand data from or about a third-party under investigation. Wyden's concern is that government agencies are flouting the Fourth Amendment by obtaining information from third-party data brokers and bypassing the judicial review process required under the law.

Wyden said he has been investigating the government's purchase of location and web browsing records for several years, but has been stymied by the Pentagon. The Defense Department last year responded to his queries but applied a classification that prevents Wyden from making the details public. And the Democrat senator's efforts to have that restriction removed have been rebuffed.

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