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Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Bennie Thompson Inquire About Government Acquisition of Personal Data

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House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., have asked several government officials through a letter to provide information on their agencies’ procurement of U.S. citizens’ personal data from companies.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on July 19 on the government’s purchase and use of private information of U.S. citizens and found that agencies often bypass warrant requirements by buying datasets from social media companies, app developers and data brokers, Nadler’s office said Wednesday.

“While law enforcement investigations necessitate some searches, improper government acquisition of this data can thwart statutory and constitutional protections designed to protect Americans’ due process rights,” the Aug. 16 letter reads.

The letter was addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland of the Department of Justice; Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and a previous Wash100 Award winner; FBI Director Christopher Wray; Chris Magnus, commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Tae Johnson, acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Anne Milgram, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The chairs of the two House panels urged agency officials to submit by Aug. 30 communications and documents related to contracts with companies that provide personal data on U.S. citizens and those associated with any legal analysis of the purchase and use of brokered data in prosecutions, investigations and agency work, among others.

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