Sen. Ron Wyden is introducing a privacy bill that would ban government agencies from buying personal information from data brokers

Sen. Ron Wyden is introducing a privacy bill that would ban government agencies from buying personal information from data brokers
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
  • Sen. Ron Wyden said he will introduce a new privacy bill that would ban government agencies from buying people's personal information from data brokers to skirt standard court orders.
  • The proposed legislation would "be very specific about making sure that you just don't have this backdoor to throw in the Fourth Amendment in the trash can," Wyden told The Verge in an interview.
  • The bill, named "The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale," is expected to roll out in the coming weeks.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said he is rolling out a new piece of legislation in the next few weeks that would ban government agencies, such as law enforcement, from purchasing people's data and obtaining their personal information.

In an interview with The Verge, Wyden outlined his plans for the bill, named "The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale," which would prevent governments from skirting the standard court orders and buying from data brokers.

"I don't think Americans' Constitutional rights ought to vanish when the government uses a credit card instead of a court order," Wyden told the outlet. "I mean, surveillance, folks, is surveillance. And what I want to do is close this loophole."
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Wyden also notes that, as a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he's privy to more intel on "shady data brokers" selling American user data and said what the general public is informed of is the "tip of the iceberg." The bill is slated to roll out in the next few weeks, per the report.

The proposed legislation comes after Sen. Wyden introduced the "Mind Your Own Business Act" in October 2019. The act was designed to keep tech executives in check by threatening up to 20 years of jail time if they are caught lying to the Federal Trade Commission about privacy violations.

Wyden is a coauthor of Section 230, the provision made to a 1996 internet law that shields tech companies with an online presence, like Twitter and Facebook, from being regulated as third-party content publishers, meaning they are not liable for the content that users post on their platforms.
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In his interview with The Verge, Wyden also said President Trump's handling of the Federal Communications Commission is a "disaster" following his renomination block of Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Reilly, who did not share the president's opposition to Section 230 as well as a strong desire to crack down on the platforms offered by tech companies.

"I shudder to think of a day in which the Fairness Doctrine could be reincarnated for the Internet, especially at the ironic behest of so-called free speech 'defenders,'" O'Reilly said last week according to a Deadline report.

Read Wyden's interview with The Verge here.

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