Washington (February 12, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Security Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf after media reports that the agency has purchased data tracking the physical location of millions of individuals and, without search warrants, is using that information for immigration enforcement purposes. Dating back to 2017, DHS has reportedly paid a private company, Venntel Inc., for access to information about the physical location of individuals and their mobile devices. In his letter, Senator Markey notes that this activity “appears to contravene the spirit, if not the letter” of the Carpenter v. United States Supreme Court case, in which the Court found that the government will generally need a search warrant supported by probable cause in order to access cell phone location data.
“In effect, DHS seems to thumb its nose at the Supreme Court by engaging in warrantless cellphone location tracking of individuals in order to expand the reach of its merciless deportation force,” writes Senator Markey.“Tracking like this is completely inconsistent with — and has disturbing and chilling effects on — the privacy protections our Constitution guarantees.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.
In his letter, Senator Markey requests responses to questions that include: