House Passes Bill To Block Police From Purchasing Online Data

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would restrict the government's ability to purchase information about Americans' data -- including information about their online activity, app use and locations.

The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (HR 4639) specifically would require federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to obtain a court order before buying personal information from data brokers, and also prohibit government agencies from purchasing data obtained through deception or violations of a privacy policy.

“Federal agencies should not be in the business of purchasing Americans’ data to bypass warrant requirements -- full stop,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, who co-sponsored the bill, said Wednesday on X (formerly Twitter) after the bill passed in the House by a vote of 219-199.



The measure was first introduced in 2021 in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and in the House by Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) and Zoe Lofgren (D-California).

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), who reintroduced the bill in the House last year, stated on Thursday that the bill would close the “data broker loophole” that allows federal agencies “to purchase Americans’ data from big tech companies without a court order.”

The self-regulatory privacy group Network Advertising Initiative supported the bill when it was first introduced.

“The nonconsensual sale of consumer data for law enforcement and foreign intelligence purposes is unethical, it poses a serious privacy threat to consumers, and it ultimately threatens the viability of data-driven advertising,” Leigh Freund, the group's CEO and president, stated in April of 2021.

On Wednesday, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation on Wednesday cheered news of the bill's passage.

“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,” the organization posted.

Next story loading loading..