Despite a 2018 law that prohibits intelligence agencies from reviewing Americans’ smartphone location information without a warrant, the Defense Intelligence Agency has continued to do so. A memo from the DIA to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) shows how an arm of the agency examined smartphone location data without a warrant five times in the past 2.5 years by purchasing commercially available location data in bulk from data brokers, The New York Times reports. “D.I.A. does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the memo said.
The move is technically legal, allowing the agency to get around the warrant requirement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection have also been reported to have used the questionable strategy in the past. Senators are expected to attempt to close the loophole under the Biden administration. Wyden (D-OR) has criticized how “the government, instead of getting an order, just goes out and purchases the private records of Americans from these sleazy and unregulated commercial data brokers who are simply above the law.”