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Legal Loopholes and Data for Dollars: How Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies Are Buying Your Data from Brokers

Carey Shenkman, Sharon Bradford Franklin, Greg Nojeim and Dhanaraj Thakur

No p3aqk, OSF Preprints from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Typically, government agencies seeking access to the personal electronic data of Americans must comply with a legal process to obtain that data. That process can be mandated by the Constitution (the Fourth Amendment’s warrant and probable cause requirement) or by statute (such as the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or various state laws). This report examines the concerning and rising practice of federal agencies sidestepping these legal requirements by obtaining data on Americans through commercial purchases from data brokers. Our research for this report involved interviewing experts on this issue and reviewing approximately 150 publicly available documents covering awards, solicitations, requests for proposals, and related information on contracts. We found significant evidence of agencies exploiting loopholes in existing law by purchasing data from private data brokers. The practice has prompted scrutiny from government watchdogs as well as members of Congress (Tau, 2021a; Wyden, 2021).

Date: 2021-12-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ban, nep-big and nep-law
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DOI: 10.31219/

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