EPIC Seeks ODNI-Led Report on Government Data Purchases

March 29, 2023

EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) concerning an ODNI-led report on the government’s purchase of data, including sensitive data on Americans. On March 8, during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden revealed that the ODNI had “convened an outside panel to study and make recommendations related to the government’s purchase of data, including sensitive data on Americans” and that the panel had produced a “lengthy report” on that issue. During that same hearing, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director Christopher Wray admitted that the FBI had previously purchased commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising as part of a pilot program. 

EPIC has long challenged warrantless government surveillance and searches of sensitive digital data, including internet browsing and search history, and has called for hearings on the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, which would end the government’s end-run around Carpenter by purchasing Americans’ personal information from data brokers. EPIC has also sought to obtain numerous government documents exposing details of various government surveillance programs utilizing private data brokers, mobile forensic technology providers, and hacking tools.  

EPIC has launched a campaign to significantly reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related surveillance authorities to, among other things, prevent the warrantless search of Americans’ communications. EPIC’s reform priorities seek to prevent the government from using other surveillance authorities or simply buying Americans’ data to avoid constitutional privacy protections. 

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