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Proposed bill to ban US government from buying location data [pdf] (senate.gov)
439 points by jbegley 24 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 133 comments

There's a better 1 page summary of the bill at https://www.wyden.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/The%20Fourth%20Am...

Understand the intent behind the bill. Wouldn't the bill be closer to effectiveness if it banned corporations from selling to any government and not only the US government? By only banning the "US government" in the "purchase" of the data, it doesn't prevent acquiring the same data from another governmental body (Canada buys the data and shares with US Intelligence community, suddenly & mysteriously trade relations with Canada improve).

So many loopholes, the bill becomes 'feel good' legislation instead of effective legislation.

>Wouldn't the bill be closer to effectiveness if it banned corporations from selling to any government and not only the US government?

Why stop there? If this data is dangerous for governments to have it, why is it safe for corporations to have it? Why not have a bill banning the collection of this data or these specific use cases of already collected data? I don't understand why we should inherently trust corporations more than governments.

I agree. Frankly, I rank corporations even higher than governments on my list of entities I absolutely do not trust with my location data.

Mainly because 'the government' has all these people with guns and flak jackets that are perfectly happy to come after people proactively.

If McDonalds maintained a SWAT team and was run by people known to bomb weddings in the pursuit of regional stability, I'd be worried about them having my location data too. But they're not going to so that, they're going to come up with a crooked scheme to feed me more burgers.

The quality of the outcome is arguable, but the level of risk is much lower.

And if Amazon buys location data on union organizers and their contacts? If farming conglomerates buy environmentalists locations? If General Electric, or other military-industrial giants, buy anti-war activist locations?

It won't stop at burgers.

If I had to add up the number of times everybody I know offline (in the real world) has run into SWAT teams that massive number is still 0. So to me the risk of danger by SWAT teams is low.

I've had 3 and I consider my life really boring, from a risk perspective.

I wonder if you know these people's lives as well as you think you do.

Risk is low if you're a CIS white male, not if you're a young black male in a poverty stricken urban area (or even just getting caught driving while black and pulled over anywhere). Also the danger level is off the charts. So not the same.

How different are they in numbers?

That's pretty poor statistical reasoning about risk.

I have met people who have won the lottery and been struck by lightening but I have never met anybody who has had a run-in with a SWAT team.

that's anecdotal evidence and has nothing to do with your risk of encountering a swat team

Are you pulling my leg?

The number of people a government imprisons, de-homes, kills or otherwise causes trouble for is orders of magnitude higher than any corporation. Said government is working on blanket principles and regularly makes mistakes.

Them knowing where I am is orders of magnitude more concerning than some dude trying to hawk me stuff based on my location. Last century, if someone was killed by human intervention it was probably at the behest of a government. It'll be same again this century. It will be the same again pretty much every century.

I'd rather nobody was tracking where I am, but it is going to be a government that actually abuses the information. How a body can look at the US government go Bush-Obama-Trump-Biden and think "yeah, I'd trust these people to keep tabs on where I am" is beyond me.

Because you have to start somewhere. Also, because unless it's dreadfully obvious (like choking you out for 9 minutes until you're dead while said person is begging you to stop with multiple witnesses in a nonchalant manner) then you will never be able to convict police misconduct where they can basically say "I thought they were pulling a weapon". thus the police/government are a lot more dangerous than google knowing where you are.

Not a bad idea, pass some laws that makes holding onto other peoples location data for more than a week or knowingly collecting large troves of location data a criminal offense. Just because you can make money from something doesn’t mean it should be allowed

Indeed. But this seems like a good place to start.

I'd imagine the intent is to require government to obtain a warrant prior to collecting location data.

They won't regulate the data broker industry precisely because they don't want the warrantless data pipe to be cut off. Location tracking is just a small piece of the invasive activities going on.

I doubt the limitation is lost on Wyden et al, but there is a political barrier to getting a bill like this passed at all. It's a lot more symbolic to introduce a bill with no chance in hell of passing the Senate than to introduce one that has at least a fighting shot. That is the piecemeal and practical nature of the legislative process. It will be more achievable to get Senate votes to constrain the government's actions than to regulate business. Until there's a stronger shift in the political winds in favor of more robust regulation of the private sector data collection business, the probability of getting over the filibuster hurdle to pass a stronger bill is remote.

> Wouldn't the bill be closer to effectiveness if it banned corporations from selling to any government

They should just ban them from selling it to anyone. Otherwise, they can buy the information from a homeless Russian?

I'm not sure it'd be constitutional for congress to ban selling something to a state government if the goods aren't themselves illegal

Not a lawyer but I think this would be constitutional in the same way that international sanctions are constitutional. The regulation of interstate and foreign commerce is an enumerated power given to congress and usually interpreted pretty broadly.

That's right, but a company in a state selling to a state gov isn't engaging in interstate commerce. Maybe SCOTUS will use the cockamamie "but the market is nationwide so it still affects it" excuse but normally...

Wickard v. Filburn pretty much ended the idea of any real limitations in regards to calling something interstate commerce:

"An Ohio farmer, Roscoe Filburn, was growing wheat to feed animals on his own farm. The US government had established limits on wheat production, based on the acreage owned by a farmer, to stabilize wheat prices and supplies. Filburn grew more than was permitted and so was ordered to pay a penalty. In response, he said that because his wheat was not sold, it could not be regulated as commerce, let alone 'interstate" commerce'..."

Roscoe lost.


> Wickard v. Filburn pretty much ended limitations in regards to interstate commerce.

It did not, illustrated by among others, US v. Lopez.


How would they claim this isn't a economic activity?

> That's right, but a company in a state selling to a state gov isn't engaging in interstate commerce.

A company commercially gathering data that is not exclusively limited to data on in-state activities of in-state residents from (transitively) exclusively in-state sources, and selling it, is engaging in interstate commerce.

If growing your own wheat for your own consumption is under the commerce clause so is every other economic activity

Also make it so selling / giving access to location data without explicit opt-in consent, along with notification to users if their data was accessed / rented / sold / used in a thing that others had access to.. basic transparency should be added as well imho.

that could make some of 'the goods' illegal.

and no I don't think t-mobile's recent email about privacy changes should count as opted in - I know the other users of the plans did not even get such an email also.

ITAR restrictions come to mind but I'm not sure if they're the same. For example, if I were to produce a gyroscope with sufficient accuracy the U.S. government can legally prevent me from selling it to foreign entities. Sure my product has excellent civil uses but it can also be used in weaponry (e.g. missiles). Data may have similar implications but I've never thought about this in depth.

Wouldn't you just do an export ban on that "product"? I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand it there is no constitutional limitation. A relatively recent example[0], although maybe congress/POTUS require extenuating circumstances to get around the constitution?

[0] https://www.fema.gov/fact-sheet/allocation-rule-personal-pro...

Export controls. Interstate commerce. There's plenty of precedent for federal statute regulating international and interstate commerce.

Precedent isn't necessary when that is one of the federal government's few enumerated powers.

I understand you're being pedantic, but that's actually false.

Potentially not if the entity was based only in that state, only collecting data on residents of that state, and only then when those residents were physically located in that state. So basically a situation that would never exist.

Of course it is, it's pretty easy to present it as a process that should require a warrant because of the 4th amendment.

Speaking of loopholes, does this affect border control agencies? I read that they can sort of do what they like within x miles of a border

They have a lot of freedom 100 miles inside the border, and pretty much all of Florida is covered by this 100 mile non-sense and probably at least half of California: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/border-zone/

FWIW, that map isn't accurate. The border starts from the boundary of international waters, not the coastline itself, which cuts out a few areas (most notably Chicago and DC, as Lake Michigan and the Chesapeake Bay are no longer the starting point).

(I haven't seen the ACLU provide any legal citation to the claim that it starts from the coastline.)

This is not the interpretation given by enforcement agencies, it seems:


Maybe what you say was the origina intent, but we know how the enforcement agencies love to reinterpret the laws to their advantage.

I looked into the case a touch more (see https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6106095/michigan-immigr...).

The key relevance I see is https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.mied.316027... (which includes the CBP's response to the allegations of the 100-mile border being counted from the coastline), where the CBP sort of denies that this is the case. It also sort of doesn't deny it, but this can very easily be a case of "we don't want to stake out a position in legal documents if we don't have to" (which is not an unreasonable thing for a lawyer to do whether the ACLU's claim is right or wrong).

I'm pretty sure the ACLU wouldn't invent a case regarding border laws if they're not being used to persecute people. You seem to be asking the ACLU to prove that the law is correct as a prerequisite to fight against abuses of this law.

Page 10 of this PDF from the Congressional Research Service has an updated map that shows what the parent commenter is talking about: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46601

How about we forbid the sale of our location data as a general principle, rather than just forbidding the government from purchasing it? Couldn't they just contract with a non-govt-entity that does have access to the information, and achieve results that way?

It's pretty clear that the US government has become very comfortable using corporate entities to do their dirty work for them. This, along with agreements with foreign governments such as the Five Eyes Alliance, means the government has pretty much limitless power to ignore the spirit of any privacy law while still complying with the letter of the law.

Unfortunately many are fine with this because they believe it benefits their ideological group, which is more important than individual rights.

>Unfortunately many are fine with this because they believe it benefits their ideological group, which is more important than individual rights.

Sadly true.

A good example from this year:


>...the FBI relied in some cases on emergency orders that do not require court authorization in order to quickly secure actual communications from people...

I remember back in the day when this would outrage people.

What really scares me is that it feels like in today's climate, the press would not even touch a story like the Snowden leaks. Not only that, but any outlet that did would be labeled as a spreader of misinformation, and banned.

After all, it's a conspiracy theory, which means it's verboten.

It’s not like the press really did all that much with Snowden. The few journalists that were involved haven’t exactly jumped in fame or popularity greatly. In fact, looking at Greenwald who was recently ousted out of the outlet he started, pretty much the opposite.

The press ran the story in my opinion half heartedly and imo forgave the transgressions because it was Obama in at the time. Most of the kick was directed right or wrong back to Bush.

It’s not like Brennan or Clapper or Rice or Yates ever faced even a degree of heat for directly lying to Congress about domestic spying.

I don’t at all disagree we live in a different world now, I just don’t have a perspective that this specific example was really that big at the time. Blurbs and tweets and Snowden Celebrity withstanding, the leaks had little to no actionable effect I can recall. I could be forgetting though.

["It's illegal to possess these stolen documents. It's different for the media. So everything you learn about this you're learning from us."](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ZTiAf8fp8)


> they believe it benefits their ideological group, which is more important than individual rights.

If you find a place where people don't think this way please let me know so I can move there.

that's a huge problem and terribly short sighted. it assumes a continued hold on power.

The people who own politicians in "both" parties can assume that.

That is partially how they do things now, yes. This bill is a step in the right direction but doesn't actually fix anything.

Since the cell phone system literally cannot work without location data (base stations need to know where the handset is) the data will always be there. But there's no reason to store it for 2-5 years as is currently done by US telcos. A "fix" for this situation would be to limit the stored location data to, say, a week. Then there would be no incentives for the companies to sell the data.

That data is absolutely vital in many criminal investigations to, eg., determine whether alibis are accurate. Many criminals have been caught in lies by taking calls that place them not-where-they-said-they-were.

There's a please clear justification for holding that data and making it accessible via a warrant.

What here needs reform is the warrant process, and more precisely, the incentive structures around policing.

US DAs/Judges/Police/etc. need to be independent and impartial. At the moment excessive US electoral "democracy" creates pathological incentive structures.

They did just fine before location data.

They'll do just fine after location data.

Especially with all the other digital breadcrumbs left around (security cameras and whatnot). If you don't think someone was somewhere they say they were there's a million other ways than phone data to check it out.

Besides, it's not like "oh look his phone was elsewhere" ever stopped police from investigating someone. They just assume you left it at home or gave it to someone for the purposes of an alibi.

> They did just fine before location data.

I hear this sort of argument a lot, and often use it myself, but... did they? Sure, law enforcement existed and solved cases before they had access to location data, but are there some (more recent) cases that would have been unsolvable without it? Or has police efficacy not increased at all because of access to location data? Do we have data on this?

As much as I'm not positive on law enforcement in general, I think it's reasonable to have access to location data. But that access should be gated behind a limited-scope court order, and judges should not be rubber-stamping them.

On the other hand, it seems like any capability granted to law enforcement ends up getting abused, so I'm sympathetic to the idea of just banning all location data use.

Most criminals know to use burner phones or at least turn off their phones, I'd be shocked if anything more than a token number of them were caught with this data.

Meanwhile it can and does put innocent bystanders (often minorities) at risk of arrest or defamation for simply being in the area.

>US DAs/Judges/Police/etc. need to be independent and impartial.

This is like wishing hell had an air conditioner.

Agreed! Also note that violent Criminals have absolutely 0% incentive to purchase firearms via legal means or actual background checks leading to denial. Their intent to commit harm is by any means possible and they WILL figure out a way.

Problem is history has shown that the mere existence of such information is too much of a temptation to resist. The "extraordinary" circumstances used to justify getting this data has a way of expanding over time until it becomes almost any routine reason being justification enough. The only way to combat this is for the information to not exist.

Yes, in some cases this means a guilty person will go free but we have a long standing belief in western legal culture that it is better for some of the guilty to go free than to punish the innocent for the actions of the guilty. Invading everyone's privacy in the name of catching the small minority that engage in criminal activities is punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty.

>The "extraordinary" circumstances used to justify getting this data has a way of expanding over time until it becomes almost any routine reason being justification enough.

One need to look no further than the widespread use of swat teams and no knock raids for mundane purposes, when even 50 years ago most cities didn't even have a swat team.

That's use it or lose it budgeting for you.

Kind of hard to justify the "APC maintenance" line item if the answer to "how much did you use that thing" is "never" so things like MRAPs and the swat team get used in situations they shouldn't be just to inflate their usefulness on paper.

People wouldn't think the world is so much more dangerous than 50 years ago if we didn't use the SWAT so often. And if people didn't think the world is more dangerous, then those in power wouldn't be able to get away with nearly as much money.

> Yes, in some cases this means a guilty person will go free but we have a long standing belief in western legal culture that it is better for some of the guilty to go free than to punish the innocent for the actions of the guilty.

I think that's a fine ideal (that I agree with), but I don't think any reverence for it is shared by many in law enforcement or the legal profession in general. Conviction rates are king, and incentives are often not aligned with true justice.

That data is absolutely vital in many criminal investigations

What you're arguing for here is to holding data on everyone for several years on the grounds that you might commit a crime in the future or be planning to commit a crime now. I'm OK with this for someone who has aroused sufficient suspicion to justify surveillance, but your approach makes mass surveillance the default condition.

> There's a please clear justification for holding that data and making it accessible via a warrant.

That's not a justification, that's an argument.

A justification would involved evidence-based analysis of why the potential benefits (that you point out) outweigh the potential risks (abuse of process, targeting, etc.).

Given the current state of affairs (as you point out) it's not clear at all that the benefits win.

That's what legal holds are for. I agree that a week is probably too short, but 3-5 years seems way too long. Six months, maybe? And a law enforcement agency can apply for a court order to put a hold on deleting data for specific people (a request that would require less scrutiny than requesting access to the data itself).

IANAL, but it seems to me that cell tower triangulation data proves a phone was at a given place at a given time but says nothing about who was in possession of the phone.

Correct, but if I tell police I took a call from you while relaxing at home, and it turns out I did take the call, but was actually at the crime scene, then my alibi falls apart.

Note this is not an endorsement of the grandparent's policy view, just an explanation of how it can be applied.

Yes there would.

They'd just sell it to the same buyer, or an intermediary, as it happens.

> Then there would be no incentives for the companies to sell the data.

That's just not true. You do realize that they sell your live location data, right?

>Couldn't they just contract with a non-govt-entity that does have access to the information, and achieve results that way?

On page 2 of the bill, the definition of 'covered customer or subscriber record' includes the following:

   (II)  an  intermediary  service  provider   that   delivers,   stores,   or   processes  communications  of  such  covered person;

This is missing the forest for the trees.

There isn't like, a piece of evidence presented here that any of this will matter.

Wyden and others introduce bills of little substance all the time, they turn the best polling headline / title into bills.

So in one perspective this is just politics as usual. Wyden's idiosyncratic donor focus groups ranked this highest this month and we're only hearing about it because this is Hacker News, and on some other forum there's some other bill we don't care about but also polled well with some other senator's donor focus groups.

This isn't saying much, that legislation is reactionary, but it's interesting the specific mechanisms nowadays are super-representative, super-cheap focus groups and polling, enabled by services like Facebook and Instagram that these bills, ironically, target.

Do these bills advance the cause of privacy? I don't really need location tracking data to guess that most of the time, you're at home or at work.

And if you're eeking out such a subsistence existence that you don't have a permanent home or you're jobless? The bigger injustice is that the government has set an adversarial sight on you in the first place.

Outlaw the sharing (and therefore resale) of all personally identifiable information.

If companies want PII from their users, they should ask those users directly for permission. The legal test for a violation is straightforward: if a user can be de-anonymized from what the company shares along with public information.

Or how about a GDPR for the US.

Absolutely! Please contact your federal Congressional representatives and ask them to draft and assemble cosponsors for such legislation.

California has made headway with CCPA, you don’t need many more states before it becomes the default without federal action.

There is momentum, and it’d be a shame to waste it.

As much as I love the spirit of the GDPR it hasn't done much other than add in an extra layer of annoying float over bars to webpages harassing me about cookies.

Then you haven't been looking or you aren't in the EU and it therefore doesn't even apply to you...

I'm in California so our similar law produced a similar result, but it's only once per website and (importantly) it's extremely clear and gives me a simple choice focused on my preferences, rather than those of the website operator.

Now if we could just do something about js popups...

I get why bills are written in the same long-form as contracts. But it creates the problem that, just like most contracts, people don't really understand the contents. (Did you actually read the pile of papers you signed for your mortgage?)

Would it be unreasonable to require any proposed legislation include a comprehensive summary written at something like a 10th grade reading level?

Something like this could help eliminate the manner in which long-form effectively bars most citizen participation in the legislative process. It would also force a degree of clarity on the implications and meanings within a proposal.

We should never, ever have to hear "We need to pass it so we can see what's in it."

As an aside, I also think there should be hard limits on the size of a single piece of legislation. If a competent reader can't sit down, read, and understand it in a single sitting, it's too long.

> Did you actually read the pile of papers you signed for your mortgage?

Yes, and it took a long time and really pissed off the sales person. Apparently I was the only one to actually read that stuff. And I learned how to opt-out of their marketing crap and I did so - boy were they bothered when I called them on sharing my info after I opted out. I think I must have been the only one ever to opt-out.

I also read my mortgage, bank man said no one had ever done that and he clearly had not read it himself. The agreement obligated me to pay the bank unlimited money (in fees) and forbid using the loan for the purposes it was advertised for.

Out of curiosity, how do you make changes or opt out?

There was no way to make changes, it was sign or walk away. But I still wanted to know what I was signing. I was told over and over 'this is all boilerplate'. The part about their selling my new address and personal info was not boilerplate and had an opt-out option in the fine print. I just exercised the opt-out - something I had to send in separately.

> I was told over and over 'this is all boilerplate'.

I really hate this response, and I've heard it so many times. It's "boilerplate" only because nobody can be bothered to read it to find out how they're being screwed, mostly because most of these are ridiculously long. If one doesn't want to negotiate, that's fine, but just be straight about it and quit wasting my time.

In one particular "contract", it was also insinuated that I didn't know what I was talking about, because I was (am) not a lawyer. I might not be, but I am not signing anything about "copywrite" (sic). (And there were more semantic errors to that particular one: I was being asked to sign over rights to a work that I didn't have rights to. They had waited until literally the day of a performance to show us this, too. It didn't get signed.)

I also read my mortgage paperwork (annoyed the title company, but they didn't make it an issue, my realtor was fine with it). Mine didn't have anything about advertising or data sharing though. Mine was through a credit union, and the fine print was all reasonable.

I read mine also. The lender seemed way more surprised than I would have expected.

Then the title person later was like, "Almost all of this is standardized stuff. It's not really like you can negotiate it at this point."

Whatever, lady, I want to know what I'm signing, I want to see that this version matches the version I already signed last night (it didn't), and for half a million bucks, you can hang out for ten minutes while I do it.

Agreed. And add in having easily-viewed diffs over the course of the bill’s evolution, so we can see who’s making which changes.

But there’s a lot of inertia against changes like this. And hard limits on bills mean there’s less horse-trading to help certain legislators sign onto a bill (which often might be pork). Not a great realization, but it’s part of how bills get passed.

We need radically more light on the activities of legislators. Sunlight cleanses all.

I think this is necessary to get us out of the quagmire that we find ourselves in, but any additional transparency will inevitably lead to witch hunts which -- even if deserved -- will lead to instability. We need to give ourselves and our representatives a path to transition to the light without letting cynical people bomb out the foundations of our society with emotion-fueled rage mobs.

Perhaps another post on the front page right now is relevant here:

On the bare necessity of psychological safety - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26860743

And add in having easily-viewed diffs over the course of the bill’s evolution, so we can see who’s making which changes.

We already have that, except a) it's not as easily to read as it might be and b) without significant study, it's often not obvious what the import of a change is.

I think we need to be thinking about a long term goal fo dispensing with representatives as they currently exist and moving toward a wiki-ocracy, where anyone can write or edit parts of the legal code but there are procedures for conflict resolution, as well as constraints of various kinds.

That (sorta) exists. This bill doesn't appear to be on Congress.gov yet, but as an example, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1

I appreciate the example, but that's way too broad and abstract compared to what I'm talking about.

"Specifically, the bill expands voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote-by-mail and early voting). It also limits removing voters from voter rolls."

"The bill addresses ethics in all three branches of government, including by requiring a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, prohibiting Members of the House from serving on the board of a for-profit entity, and establishing additional conflict-of-interest and ethics provisions for federal employees and the White House."

What does any of that mean specifically? Expands voter registration and access how? Imposes what limits on removing voters from voter rolls? What's in the code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices? And on and on and on.

There has to be middle ground between a useless and abstract summary - that sounds more like a commercial than a true summary - and the bill itself with several pages of preamble just to define well-understood terms.

The more specific the summary, the more likely it is to be incorrect in some strict sense. Then if all of it becomes law, the courts have to interpret which part is right.

So, by that logic, a summary must be so vague as to be meaningless, lest it risk being incorrect by the strictest of standards.

We can do better. It would be very easy to establish a broad “good-faith” standard for a legislative summary while also specifying it’s use for “informational purposes only.”

Whenever I see articles about this topic I'm left with so many questions. Where does one go to buy such location data? Is it expensive? Are there minimum orders or do I have to buy all of it and hope what I'm looking for is contained in it? Are there restrictions on who is allowed to buy it? Who are other consumers of the data besides the government, insurance companies? Private investigators?

I'd really like for someone to get a contract, then sell the information a la carte for $1-$5 a pop. Until that happens, people won't care.

After some light research, you can apparently subscribe for as little as $5k per-month [0]. Not sure how you'd link a GAID/IDFA to a person's identity though.

[0] https://datarade.ai/data-products/lifesight-mobility-data

Interesting, thank you. I did some light research in the past, and it was always "contact us for a quote".

Why would we be concerned specifically about the government "buying" this information? I don't know or care how much money has exchanged hands through the NSA/AT&T/Room 641A surveillance -- if AT&T did that all for free, it wouldn't be any better.

There's a whole cottage industry of companies selling US citizen data around credit, location, etc. (safegraph, ...), including say military personnel, government officials, political activists, bankers, and other high-trust individuals. Government people fight hard to allow corporate money laundering and stock market nonsense to stay hidden, but it's a free-for-all for citizen data.

It's insane to me that it's legal, and my current guess is it'll take ~20 years for the current 60+ year olds in power who don't know how to use computers to age out.

Counterpoint: perhaps companies could still "donate" location data to the government, maybe even for exclusive perks such as tax write-offs or access to information and resources.

This bill sounds nice in principle, but like everything else, could be completely negated by simple loopholes. It could even be smoke and mirrors, so that they can say this issue has already been addressed by legislation. Defective legislation is rampant.

IANAL, but those perks would seem to be covered by "in exchange for anything of value".

How about just banning buying location data period?

"It's okay, we didn't buy it, we shared it."

Generally I dislike the big D Democrats, but I'm behind any bill that decreases the power of the government.

I didn’t check them all, but there is at least one Republican on there (Dianes, Montana)

Their untenable economic fanstasies aside, the neo-socialists (Bernie, AOC and friends) who are rising in the democratic party are TONS better than the neoliberal old guard (Biden, Feinstein, etc. those kinds of dinosaurs) when it comes to showing restraint before throwing additional state law enforcement power at problems.

The republicans have made a similar shift in that the moralizing christian right has a lot less influence among the new ones.

I think things will be a lot better in 10-20yr as the dinosaurs from both parties drop dead.

This is utterly insane, ban private companies from being allowed to harvest and sell this data. Why do we think targeting ads to pregnant women is a more legitimate use than hunting terrorists to the point where the former is ignored and the latter is banned?

Why is the fourth amendment not sufficient to stop this? Why do we need a bill to stop companies from selling to the government which is violating constitutional law by consuming the data?

No specific warrant, the data cannot be used.

The fourth amendment stops the government forcing a company to disclose customer records, but it doesn't stop that company voluntarily turning over the records (ie selling it).

I feel like I'm out of the loop on this one. Is there a specific reason the government shouldn't buy location data?

I can think of good uses for the data (the census, mapping traffic patterns, pandemic modeling).

Purchase histories seem more telling to me if you want to know someone's secrets?

Isn't the whole point of organisations like 5-eyes to bypass what little domestic restrictions there are?

There are plenty of other entities I'd prefer not to access my data including state and lower level governments, corps, insurers, foreign governments (I'm a brit to be fully transparent).

So why this particular combination of conditions?

How about we skip the middle-man and reduce their budget instead? That's my preferred way of limiting government.

I'd love to see a similar bill to ban the US Government from banning encryption. Would that need to be an amendment?

Surely the NSA already has all this data, whether legal or not?

Do people think things have fundamentally changed after Snowden?


The loopholes that this bill leaves unclosed make this entire bill just another dog-and-pony-show.

This is just for show, not to affect any type of meaningful change.

Making the SALE of ALL location data illegal, to any 3rd party, would more than suffice. This proposal is just a song and dance for the generally uneducated and uninformed populace.

The government will simply purchase the data from another government...


Useless pandering. They suck.

They should also consider banning US companies from selling the same data to other governments.

I propose we ban every entity from buying location data without explicit consent.

what is the indication on how this bill vote will go ?

I see that the cosponsors cross party lines. But is it enough that it will make it into law ?

new legal racket on acquiring and providing 'free' data to the government, totally unrelated to other contracts, when?

Is this a proposal or a new bill?

Bernie Sanders is on the right side of damn near everything.

So just use a contractor with access to it?

On page 2 of the bill, the definition of 'covered customer or subscriber record' includes the following:

   (II)  an  intermediary  service  provider   that   delivers,   stores,   or   processes  communications  of  such  covered person;

Who will interpret what is meant by "service provider"? If it is just a data seller who buys it without receiving it in the course of providing a service to the first company, is it covered? Will it require a ruling to know for sure?

Sounds easily bypassed through layers of indirection. Sadly this is just legal noise. It doesn’t solve the core problem.

Why are private companies more trustworthy than the government?

Private companies cannot use physical force against you or deprive you of your volition.

That doesn't exactly make them trustworthy. Also, that hasn't always been true... e.g.


Neither can the government, there are laws against that. If you argue that they can ignore the law since they are politicians, then what use are laws stating that the government can't keep your private information?

I don't think the "deprive you of your volition" part is true. Private companies can absolutely do this to you as an individual - either as an employee or a consumer. And, they can do it through both direct and indirect means.

i.e. not necessarily less trustworthy, but less able to enforce their will upon you

People in private companies want to make money.

People in government want power.

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