In March, the FBI admitted that they have purchased Americans’ private data in order to obtain geolocation data from cell phones through online advertising.
Now the bureau is facing legal issues, controversy, and backlash over constitutional protections against warrantless searches.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also bought access to American geolocation data.
Republican Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) says it’s “disturbing.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz responded, “We’re looking at that, we saw those news stories, we’re looking at that issue.”
Cline thenasked, “How did the FBI, and potentially other elements of the DOJ come to believe that buying location information about Americans without a warrant would be legal, especially after the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Carpenter, which held that Americans’ location information is protected by the Fourth Amendment?”
Horowitz said, “I think it raises precisely the issues you mentioned, I think what I’m supposing may have happened is before Carpenter happened, the Department took advantage of, at least in some instances, of the ambiguity of the law. Post-Carpenter, of course, that shouldn’t have happened.”
More on this story via Breitbart:
Carpenter v. United States was a landmark 2018 Supreme Court ruling that held that the United States government needed a search warrant to track suspects for an extended period from cellphone carriers.
Horowitz continued, saying that he is not sure about this point about other parts of DOJ purchasing communications or internet records.
At the end of March, Cline pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland during a House Appropriations Committee hearing over this controversy.
Cline asked Garland if he agreed with Horowitz that purchasing Americans’ private data should not have happened post-Carpenter.
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Garland said that he does not know any more information than what FBI Director Christopher Wray said when he admitted that the FBI used to purchase Americans’ private communications data.
Cline asked Garland, “Are any parts of DOJ still purchasing location data?”
The attorney general said, “The Department [DOJ] has an internal investigation going on internally to find out which parts,” of the agency might still be engaging in this practice.