Washington – A military contingent of the intelligence community buys a commercially available database containing location data from a smartphone app and searches it for past movements of Americans without warrants, according to an inaccessible memo obtained by The New York Times.
Analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency have searched for Americans’ movements within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years, agency officials revealed in a memo they wrote for Senator Ron Whedon, a Democrat from Oregon.
The disclosure highlights a looming loophole in privacy law during the digital age: in a 2018 ruling known as the Carpenter Decision, the Supreme Court It is believed that the Constitution requires Government to obtain a warrant for phone companies to turn on 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.
The agency’s memorandum states that the DIA Carpenter’s decision does not require judicial warrant endorsing of commercially available data for intelligence purposes.
Mr. Wyden has clarified that he intends to propose legislation to add security measures to the privacy of Americans regarding commercially available location data. In A Senate speech this week, He condemned situations “in which the government, instead of obtaining an injunction, simply goes out and buys private records of Americans from these lewd and unregulated commercial data brokers that are just above the law.”
He called the practice unacceptable and an intrusion on constitutional privacy rights. “The Fourth Amendment is not for sale,” he said.
The government’s use of commercial databases of location information has come under scrutiny. Many smartphone apps log their users’ locations, and app creators can collect data and sell it to brokers, who can then resell it – including the government.
It is known that the government sometimes uses such data for law enforcement purposes on domestic lands.
Wall Street Journal Last year reported About law enforcement agencies that use such data. In particular, it was found, two agencies in the Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection – have used the data to patrol the border and subsequently investigate immigrants arrested.
In October, Buzzfeed Reported on the existence of a legal memorandum The Department of Homeland Security recognized that it was legal for law enforcement agencies to purchase and use smartphone location data without warrants. The Inspector General of the Department has Opened an internal review.
The military is also sometimes known to use location data for intelligence purposes.
in November, Vice’s motherboard tech blog report That Muslim Pro, a Muslim prayer and Quran app, had sent the location data of its users to a broker called X-Mode which in turn sold it to defense contractors and the US military. Muslim pro then said This will stop data sharing With X-mode, and Apple and Google They said they would ban apps Who use the company’s tracking software from phones running their mobile operating systems.
The new memo for Mr. Whedon, written in response to an inquiry by a privacy and cyberspace aide in his office, added that emerging mosaic by Chris Soghian.
The Defense Intelligence Agency appears to be primarily purchasing and using location data to investigate foreigners; One of its main missions is to detect threats to US forces deployed around the world.
But, the memo said, the anonymous broker or broker from which the government buys wholesale smartphone location data does not differentiate American and foreign users. The Defense Intelligence Agency instead processes the data as it comes to filter the records that appear on home soil and put them in a separate database.
Agency analysts can only query individual databases of Americans’ data if they receive special approval, the memo said, “allowing US device location data to be queried for authorized purposes over the last two and a half years. Times are given. “
Mr. Widen called President Biden’s National Director, Aville D. Haines asked what he called the “misuse” of commercially available local information? Hearing on his confirmation this week. Ms Haines said she was not yet up to speed on the subject but stressed the government’s importance regarding the rules under which it operates.
“I want to try to promote, essentially, a framework that helps people understand the circumstances under which we do this and the legal basis that we do under that,” he said. said. “I think that to promote transparency it is important that people generally have an understanding of the guidelines under which the intelligence community operates.”
Mr. Wyden’s forthcoming legislation on the subject is likely to be embroiled in a major surveillance debate that erupted in Congress last year. Temporarily clouded After President Donald J. Irregular statement by Trump, As it averted its grievances over Russia’s investigation, threatening to veto the bill and not clarifying what would satisfy it.
Lawmakers now in office with Mr. Biden are ready to resume that unresolved case. The law focuses on reviving several provisions of the Patriot Act that have expired and whether to introduce new safeguards on them, including a ban on the use of the part known as section 215 Web browsing information without a warrant.