A bipartisan coalition of 20 senators proposed new data privacy legislation on Wednesday designed to prevent the sale of American users’ data to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The “Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act” aims to close what the lawmakers label as a legal loophole allowing data brokers to sell Americans’ data without court oversight. Sens. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, and Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, led the coalition of 17 Democrats — including Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer — and three Republicans.
The proposed bill would require the government to get a court order to force data brokers to disclose data, consistent with the court orders needed to gather data from tech and phone companies, according to Mr. Wyden’s office.
“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,” Mr. Wyden said in a statement about the bill. “This bill closes that legal loophole and ensures that the government can’t use its credit card to end-run the Fourth Amendment.”
Mr. Wyden’s office said the bill would also end the intelligence community’s authority to buy or acquire metadata from Americans’ calls, emails and text messages to those abroad without review by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Intelligence agencies would also need probable cause orders when gathering Americans’ location data, and web-browsing and search history.
Other privacy laws covering tech and telecommunications providers would also apply to infrastructure firms owning data cables and cell towers, according to Mr. Wyden’s office.
“This critical legislation will put an end to the government’s practice of buying its way around the Bill of Rights by purchasing the personal and location data of everyday Americans,” Mr. Paul said in a statement. “Enacting the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act will not only stop this gross abuse of privacy, but also stands for the fundamental principle that government exists to protect, not trade away, individual rights.”
Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler, House Judiciary Committee chair, and Zoe Lofgren, House Administration Committee chair, are introducing companion legislation in the House.
The senators’ newest data privacy proposal is part of an ongoing push by Mr. Wyden to overhaul federal data privacy and security policy.
Last week, Mr. Wyden proposed the “Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Surveillance Act” to restrain the export of Americans’ data to countries where that information would pose a national security threat to the United States.
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