Maintaining anonymity in the modern age has become increasingly difficult. Scraping bots scour the internet for pictures, phone numbers, email addresses, and other personal details, then sell it back to their owners. As it turns out, some US Senators are opposed to this activity, particularly when the client is the government itself, and are working to bring an end to it.
The “Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act,” drafted by twenty US senators, could close a legal loophole that enables firms like Clearview AI, a facial recognition software company, to sell Americans’ information to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
According to Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore) and Rand Paul (R-Ky), current privacy laws don’t apply evenly across all data transactions — whereas companies that have “direct relationships with consumers” are subject to stricter rules, data brokers can sell data to government entities “without any court oversight.”
“This bill… ensures that the government can’t use its credit card to end-run the Fourth Amendment.”
“Doing business online doesn’t amount to giving the government permission to track your every movement or rifle through the most personal details of your life,” Wyden said in a statement. “There’s no reason information scavenged by data brokers should be treated differently than the same data held by your phone company or email provider. This bill closes that legal loophole and ensures that the government can’t use its credit card to end-run the Fourth Amendment.”
Today I’m introducing my legislation to put a stop to the federal government using its credit card to end-run the Fourth Amendment. My #4thAmendmentIsNotForSale Act will make it illegal for the government to buy your location data without a warrant.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) April 21, 2021
Senators hope to prevent law enforcement authorities from purchasing details such as facial recognition and geographic records, but the bill’s wording is far narrower than those two definitions alone.
We’ll be reaching out to Clearview for comment, and will update this article if we receive a response. In the meantime, you can read the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act in its entirety for yourself right here.