Tell Congress: The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale

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The Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act, H.R.4639, originally introduced in the Senate by Senator Ron Wyden in 2021, has now made the important and historic step of passing the U.S. House of Representatives. In an era when it often seems like Congress cannot pass much-needed privacy protections, this is a victory for vulnerable populations, people who want to make sure their location data is private, and the hard-working activists and organizers who have pushed for the passage of this bill.

Everyday, your personal information is being harvested by your smart phone applications, sold to data brokers, and used by advertisers hoping to sell you things. But what safeguards prevent the government from shopping in that same data marketplace? Mobile data regularly bought and sold, like your geolocation, is information that law enforcement or intelligence agencies would normally have to get a warrant to acquire. But it does not require a warrant for law enforcement agencies to just buy the data. The U.S. government has been using its purchase of this information as a loophole for acquiring personal information on individuals without a warrant.

Now is the time to close that loophole. Your sensitive personal information is being sold in a toxic data marketplace, whether you like it or not. Private companies harvest all sorts of personal information about you and sell it to the highest bidder—including the U.S. government.

News outlets have been filled with headlines in the last year of government agencies, from immigration enforcement to the U.S. military, acquiring location data collected about you by smart phone applications. The data marketplace where advertisers go to sell ads for a local store should not be the same place the government goes to evade warrant requirements.

In addition to those prohibitions, the bill also creates new mandates for disclosure and transparency, and it closes loopholes for other ways the government might acquire this type of commercially available data from third-parties.

Tell Congress right now that the Fourth Amendment is not for sale.


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