The Defense Intelligence Agency has a back door method of keeping track of Americans, according to a new report.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that America’s intelligence agencies needed a warrant to force phone companies to turn over location data on their customers, The New York Times reported that agencies have found a way to end-run that ruling, pointing to what it called an unclassified memo it has received on the subject.
Instead of having the intelligence community seek the information directly, agencies buy databases that are already available that have the location data intelligence agencies want.
As this power is being placed in the hands of the Biden administration, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is trying to call attention to the practice and have it stopped.
“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 memo stated.
Wyden last week denounced cases “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.”
He said the practice is wrong.
“The Fourth Amendment is not for sale,” he said. The Fourth Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
During his comments, which came during the confirmation hearing of Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Wyden said there is a “need to rebuild trust in the Intelligence Community, which is going to require an aggressive and sustained commitment to transparency,” according to a release on his website.
“A key component of that transparency is making sure Americans know what kind of surveillance the government is conducting on them. And they should especially be told if the government is using legal loopholes in the law and the warrant requirement in the Fourth Amendment,” he said.
Wyden said full disclosure is needed of what the intelligence community is up to.
“I intend to introduce legislation on this topic. But for Congress to tackle this topic, it is vitally important that there be an informed, public debate on what the government is collecting right now and what it believes is the legal basis for that collection,” he said.
Wyden said one issue with intelligence agencies is that “the government too often reinterprets a public law in secret and keeps the new interpretation secret under the pretext that reinterpretations must be hidden to keep us safe. The reality is that interpretations of public law must be transparent and public.”
The memo said that when agencies buy databases, the brokers do not identify who are Americans and who are not.
The memo stated that DIA agents must get special permission from the agency’s office of general counsel, office of oversight compliance and its senior leadership to access the records of Americans.
“Permission to query the U.S. device location data has been granted five times in the past two and a half years for authorized purposes,” the memo said.
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