Sleazy data brokers are selling the data they harvest on US citizens and residents to the US government and its big business.
While the US Constitution prevents the government from demanding or forcing a company to hand over its sensitive data on users, there is a massive loophole.
The US government can just buy the data instead.
The sleazy data harvesters aren’t being compelled to do anything, rather, they are being financially rewarded by the US government to conduct surveillance the population and then pass that data on to the government willingly.
Numerous government agencies, including the FBI, military, National Guard and police departments are buying up droves of data, including sensitive geolocation data.
According to analysts, constitutional restrictions on the government’s ability to force companies to hand over data mean nothing so long as that very same data is readily available for purchase on the open market.
Here’s How Your Data Is Used
One recent high-profile example that came to light as to how the US government is using the sensitive data it purchases on individuals was the harvesting of data a Muslim prayer and dating app with over 98 million downloads, as reported by Vice.
A firm called Locate X sold the data to the military and brags about how it also sells data to other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Civil rights analysts worry that, while government data harvesting is a threat to the rights of all Americans, it could pose an even greater threat to minority groups, such as muslims.
Meanwhile, a few months ago, the FBI admitted to having bought precise geolocation data relating to millions of devices, as reported by the WSJ and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is reported to have purchased data in order to locate and deport illegal migrants and get around sanctuary laws.
Calls for Ban on Government Data Buying Grow
Unsurprisingly, the government’s ability to access sensitive data on individuals such as their location so readily without requiring a warrant is a serious concern for anyone who values privacy and limits government overreach.
Recently, the Biden administration proposed new protections to prevent law enforcement from accessing reproductive healthcare data.
While it’s a step in the right direction, the proposal doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Congress needs to ban the ability of government agencies to get their hands on private data, either through compulsion or via the open market, in its entirety, civil rights proponents argue.
But data privacy concerns, unfortunately, go well beyond the government.
Part of the justification for Italy’s recent ban on ChatGPT was that it might be illegally using people’s data.
We may be entering a new era where artificial intelligence (AI) systems know as much, or more, about us than the government, and there may be very little we can do about it.
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