Press Releases

Congress Must Act Immediately to End Fourth Amendment Violations

WASHINGTON — Ahead of this morning’s House Judiciary Committee hearing “Digital Dragnets: Examining the Government’s Access to Your Personal Data,” Demand Progress Senior Policy Counsel Sean Vitka released the following statement: 

“Congress and the public have only recently learned that government agencies are circumventing the Fourth Amendment en masse through the purchase of information from data brokers. Data brokers, meanwhile, have increasingly invasive views into Americans’ lives. Policy makers and the public therefore have an urgent policy question but no sense of the scale at which this practice is undermining the right to privacy in the United States.

“We hope that through today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Congress can both gain a greater understanding of the threat this poses to the American people and the alarming rate at which this abuse is undermining Americans’ privacy.

“There are severe and wide-reaching implications of the government circumventing the right to privacy in the United States by purchasing bulk information from data brokers. Perhaps most urgently, we are gravely concerned about how this undermining of the Fourth Amendment will enable persecution of people seeking abortions and other reproductive health care. Even before Roe was overturned, the unholy alliance between the government’s appetite for mass surveillance and data brokers’ thirst for information about each and every one of us drove unconstitutional over-policing of Black and brown communities, immigrants, and activists. Now, people who can get pregnant are rightfully concerned that this unconstitutional mass surveillance has turned their smartphones against them.

“Plain and simple: Data brokers should not be able to profit off of the violation of our Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure.

“We are pleased to see the House Judiciary Committee dedicating time to this urgent issue. Congress must act quickly before mass surveillance-by-checkbook further proliferates across the government and increasingly infiltrates the day-to-day lives of Americans.”