White House Lobbies Against Ban on Purchase of Americans’ Data

by | Mar 11, 2024

White House Lobbies Against Ban on Purchase of Americans’ Data

by | Mar 11, 2024


For years, several federal agencies have been spending US tax dollars to buy Americans’ data from private bulk sellers. As some members of Congress seek a new law against the practice, the Joe Biden administration is pushing back on the effort to curtail the power to buy the information that would otherwise require a warrant. 

US intelligence, military, and law enforcement have gathered massive amounts of Americans’ data through private brokers. Michael Morell, former head of the CIA, admitted to the Wall Street Journal last year, “If we collected it using traditional intelligence methods, it would be top secret-sensitive. And you wouldn’t put it in a database, you’d keep it in a safe.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has teamed up to stop the unconstitutional method of collecting massive amounts of Americans’ information. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Ron Wyden (D-WA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) placed a provision in a bill that would prohibit the government from buying Americans’ information, although it would allow for the collection of data on foreign nationals. 

Last year, a report released by the Director of National Intelligence warned the data could be used to “reveal sensitive and intimate information about the personal attributes, private behavior, social connections, and speech of US persons and non-US persons.”

“It can be misused to pry into private lives, ruin reputations, and cause emotional distress, and threaten the safety of individuals.” The report continues, “Even subject to appropriate controls, CAI can increase the power of the government’s ability to peer into private lives to levels that may exceed our constitutional traditions or other social expectations.”

Despite the alarming potential for abuse, the White House opposes a Congressional effort to rein in the collection of Americans’ data. President Biden, who recently signed an executive order banning some foreign governments from buying Americans’ information, is well aware of this potential. 

During a congressional hearing last month, a White House official claimed the US government uses the data differently from other nations, urging lawmakers not to curtail the practice. “I would not compare the way that our government uses data to the way that countries of concern are using data,” the official claimed. 

Biden ally Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) asserted the ban “would undermine some of the most fundamental and important activities of the intelligence community and law enforcement.” However, according to the WSJ, the intelligence community has used the data to pursue far more trivial crimes, such as credit card fraud and tracking down illegal immigrants. 

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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