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Statement

Coalition Letter Calls for Congressional Hearings on Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act

On January 26, 2022, the Brennan Center joined 50 organizations focused on privacy rights, governmental transparency, and surveillance reform to urge congressional action on the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act.

Published: January 26, 2022

The Fourth Amend­ment broadly protects Amer­ic­ans’ personal inform­a­tion against govern­ment surveil­lance. But, in recent years, agen­cies ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to the Federal Bureau of Invest­ig­a­tion have devised a scheme to circum­vent those protec­tions. Instead of seek­ing prob­able-cause warrants, as the Consti­tu­tion requires, they argue that they are free to purchase private data from commer­cial brokers. Since the stat­utes govern­ing the dissem­in­a­tion of Amer­ic­ans’ personal mater­i­als pred­ate mobile apps and commer­cial brokers, this blatant evasion of core consti­tu­tional prin­ciples is not expressly prohib­ited in federal law. The govern­ment has lever­aged this loop­hole to buy up data that eman­ates from gaming apps and prayer apps, expos­ing many Amer­ic­ans — and dispro­por­tion­ately communit­ies of color — to back­door surveil­lance.

The public, however, remains largely unaware of the govern­ment’s end run around the Consti­tu­tion. Hear­ings in Congress would shed light on the threat to privacy rights posed by the govern­ment’s actions and spur momentum for the passage of the correct­ive Fourth Amend­ment Is Not For Sale Act (S.1265/H.R. 2738). The Bren­nan Center thus urges the House Judi­ciary Commit­tee and Senate Judi­ciary Commit­tee to hold hear­ings on the bill in early 2022.

Coali­tion Letter Calls for Congres­sional Hear­ings on Fourth Amend­ment Is Not For Sale Act by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd