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 these databrokers don’t ask for a warrant. 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. 

EFF is launching a campaign in support of the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act, or H.R. 2738 and S.1265. This legislation prevents the government from purchasing information it would otherwise need a warrant to acquire. Tell your senators and representatives that this bill must be passed!

TAKE ACTION

TELL CONGRESS: THe fourth amendment is not for sale

We first wrote about the need for legislation like this in December 2020, after a troubling article in Motherboard. It reported that a Muslim prayer app (Muslim Pro), a Muslim dating app (Muslim Mingle), and many other popular apps had been selling geolocation data about their users to a company called X-Mode, which in turn provided this data to the U.S. military through defense contractors.

This violates the First and Fourth Amendments. Just because your phone apps know where you are does not mean the government should, too. The invasive marketplace for your data needs to be tamed by privacy legislation, not used by the government as an end-run around the warrant requirement. The Supreme Court has decided that our detailed location data is so revealing about our activities and associations that law enforcement must get a warrant in order to acquire it.

Government purchase of location data also threatens to chill people’s willingness to participate in protests in public places, associate with who they want, or practice their religion. History and legal precedent teach us that when the government indiscriminately collects records of First Amendment activities, it can lead to retaliation or further surveillance.

TAKE ACTION

TELL CONGRESS: THe fourth amendment is not for sale

You can read the full text of the bill below:

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