FBI Admits Buying Americans’ Location Data


Map with location pins | Image by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has admitted to purchasing location data on U.S. citizens.

During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray confessed that the agency had purchased location data of Americans without obtaining a warrant.

“Does the FBI purchase U.S. phone-geolocation information?” asked Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as reported by Wired.

Wray responded, “To my knowledge, we do not currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising.”

However, Wray acknowledged that the bureau “previously — as in the past — purchased some such information for a specific national security pilot project.”

“But that’s not been active for some time,” Wray clarified, adding that the agency does not purchase data at the present time and has “no plans to change that.” However, he did not explain why the practice had ended.

Wray said the FBI now has a “court-authorized process” for accessing location data but did not specify any details about the process. Wired reported that it is unclear whether he was referring to a warrant or some other legal loophole.

The Dallas Express reached out to the FBI National Press Office for clarification but received no response by press time.

“The public needs to know who gave the go-ahead for this purchase, why, and what other agencies have done or are trying to do the same,” said Sean Vitka, policy attorney at Demand Progress, a nonprofit organization that claims to be “spearheading the fight against warrantless mass surveillance,” as reported by Wired.

Vitka claimed further that the implications of Wray’s comments are “horrifying” and that Congress should ban government agencies altogether from purchasing data.

The Supreme Court held in its 2018 decision on Carpenter v. United States that government agencies could not obtain historical location data without a warrant as it violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

However, agencies reportedly have exploited existing legal loopholes to continue purchasing data from private brokers.

The Center for Democracy & Technology believes its research demonstrates that “law enforcement agencies are among the customers of some data brokers, spending millions of dollars to gain access to private sector databases which often contain very sensitive and very personal information on individuals,” according to a report released in 2021.

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9 days ago

And all this evil is the result of computers. It’s too easy for our government and others to spy and is the cause of identity theft. With great power comes great (responsibly/scratch that)…evil.

Reply to  Pap
9 days ago

It was not computers that the FBI used to silence the voices of conservatives and our President. It was not computers that lied about C-19 and the vaccinations. It was not computers that lied on the stand and failed to deliver exculpatory videos to the J6 defendants. Int was not computers that elected a President that has a less than 30% approval rating since almost day one of office.
It is not computers that steal identities.
Computers are no more responsible than guns are responsible. They are a tool only.
What is irresponsible is our federal government. The conservative states are getting it right even as the feds try and block them over and over.
What we need as a start are laws that allow liquidated damages paid to the harmed party for any kind of infraction by a government agent under color of authority. We also need that for rob calls. We need it for illegal sales calls. We need it for companies that use foreign based businesses to generate income in the USA by violating our laws. But Congressmen and Senators earn money from all of it.

9 days ago

We are moving towards a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) where your money, your spending, your movements, your lifestyle and friends will all be tracked.
And just like Canada (Trucker Freedom Convoy) or China, your money can be turned off if you do not follow the official narrative of the government.
In China, jaywalkers are caught on camera and are immediately fined on their digital currency.

9 days ago

The MORE IMPORTANT issue is the PEOPLE KNOWING which companies were “selling” and or had handed over this kind of data by request of any federal agency.

The issue is not JUST the FBI. Once those companies handed over the information they became agents of government. They can never become NOT an AGENT OF GOVERNMENT thereafter no matter what they do.

This creates a legal ability of the citizen against those companies and the government agencies forever! Just like Musk’s company, it can never be anything else now, it was an agent of the democrat party and the FBI as well as Fauci and the CDC etc.

Musk actually needs to sue every government agency that used the company before he purchased it. This was undisclosed information and harmed the value of that company at purchase.