Tester Reintroduces Bill to End Warrantless Government Seizure of Americans’ Personal Data

Bipartisan Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act would prevent federal agencies from obtaining personal data without a warrant, protect Montanans’ privacy

As part of his continued efforts to protect Montanans’ personal privacy, U.S. Senator Jon Tester recently joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to reintroduce the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act, a bill to close loopholes that allow for federal agencies and law enforcement to access personal data without a warrant. This legislation prevents abuses of Americans’ right to privacy by cracking down on how the government can buy and use Americans’ personal data.

“Right now, the government and intelligence agencies can fly in the face of the Fourth Amendment and collect data without a warrant – severely undermining the privacy that Montanans should be able to expect,” said Tester. “This critical legislation protects Montanans’ Constitutional rights, blocks unreasonable intrusions in our private lives, and works to stop the warrantless government collection of personal data.”

As it stands, federal agencies and law enforcement can use loopholes in the laws to buy and obtain massive amounts of Americans’ data, including cell phone location and search histories, from third party data brokers; acquire metadata about Americans’ browsing on foreign websites; and use facial recognition systems even if the photos and data were obtained improperly – and they can do it all without a warrant.  

Tester’s legislation would protect personal privacy rights by: 

  • Preventing the government from buying Americans’ data from data brokers, instead requiring the government to get a court order to compel data brokers to disclose data — the same kind of court order needed to compel data from tech and phone companies.
  • Stopping law enforcement and intelligence agencies buying data on people in the U.S. and about Americans abroad, if the data was obtained from a user’s account or device, or via deception, hacking, violations of a contract, privacy policy, or terms of service, preventing the government from buying facial recognition and other data from Clearview.AI.
  • Extending existing privacy laws that protect Americans’ call phone records to infrastructure firms that own data cables & cell towers.
  • Closing loopholes that would permit the intelligence community to buy or otherwise acquire metadata about Americans’ international calls, texts and emails to family and friends abroad, without any FISA Court review.
  • Ensuring that intelligence agencies acquiring data on Americans do so within the framework of the FISA and that when acquiring Americans’ location data, web browsing records and search history, intelligence agencies obtain probable cause warrants.
  • Taking away the Attorney General’s authority to grant civil immunity to providers and other third parties for assistance with surveillance not required or permitted by statute.

The text of the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act is available HERE.