Press Releases

House Unanimously Adopts Critical Privacy Amendment, Proves Ready to Tackle Data Broker Loophole

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives just unanimously adopted a critical bipartisan privacy amendment (Amdt #66) offered to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2024 by Reps. Davidson (R-OH), Jacobs (D-CA), Mace (R-SC), Jayapal (D-WA), Biggs (R-AZ), Lofgren (D-CA), Tenney (R-NY), and Hoyle (D-OR). This amendment closes the data broker loophole at the Department of Defense and its components, including the NSA, which have been caught buying sensitive location data from Muslim prayer and dating apps and buying location information in bulk.

The following statement can be attributed to Sean Vitka, senior policy counsel at Demand Progress:

“The Davidson-Jacobs amendment proves that the House of Representative is ready to tackle the Data Broker Loophole. As Congress continues to gear up for a once-in-a-generation fight over warrantless surveillance, this amendment’s adoption sets the stage for comprehensive Congressional action to defend Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy against data brokers and warrantless, checkbook surveillance by the government.”

This measure immediately follows bipartisan members of the House Judiciary Committee demanding transparency about the government’s purchase of sensitive information from data brokers during testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray, which he refused to provide. It also precedes the end-of-the-year debate over potential reauthorization of Section 702, a massive warrantless surveillance authority that has been abused hundreds of thousands of times, including to search for information about protestors, Congressional donors, journalists, and even a sitting member of Congress.

Closing the Data Broker Loophole is one of — if not the most — bipartisan issue in Congress, and the American people overwhelmingly support requiring a warrant before government agencies can obtain this information from data brokers. A Wall Street Journal poll from the end of 2020 found “that 77% of Americans believe the government should get a warrant to buy the kind of detailed location information that is frequently purchased and sold on the commercial market by data brokers.

Similarly, 45 organizations endorsed the Davidson-Jacobs amendment, including the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Wikimedia, and many more.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has further put together this helpful one-pager explaining why the practice is so dangerous to people seeking reproductive healthcare post-Dobbs, but it doesn’t stop there. From religious expressionpolitical activity, and immigrant communities to civil rights, “national security, and to U.S. democracy writ large” — the Data Broker Loophole affects everyone in the United States.