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BUYING YOU : Fourth-Parties to Launder Data about “the People”

BUYING YOU : Fourth-Parties to Launder Data about “the People”

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Published by: jinkhet on Jan 02, 2010
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05/11/2014

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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1475524
 
 
 JOSHUA L.SIMMONS
BUYING YOUThe Government’s Use of Fourth-Parties to LaunderData about “the People”
2009
 
C
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950For more information:http://www.joshualsimmons.com
 
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1475524
 
BUYING YOU: THE GOVERNMENT’S USEOF FOURTH-PARTIES TO LAUNDER DATA  ABOUT “THE PEOPLE”
Joshua L. Simmons*
Your information is for sale, and the government is buying it at alarming rates. The CIA, FBI, Justice Department, Defense Department, and other government agencies are atthis very moment turning to a group of companies to providethem information that these companies can gather withoutthe restrictions that bind government intelligence agencies.The information is gathered from sources that few wouldbelieve the government could gain unfettered access to, butwhich, under current Fourth Amendment doctrine andstatutory protections, are completely accessible.
 
Fourth-parties, such as ChoicePoint or LexisNexis, are private companies that aggregate data for the government,and they comprise the private security-industrial complex that arose after the attacks of September 11, 2001. They arein the business of acquiring information, not from theinformation’s originator (the first-party), nor from theinformation’s anticipated recipient (the second-party), but from the unavoidable digital intermediaries that transmitand store the information (third-parties). These fourth-partycompanies act with impunity as they gather information thatthe government wants but would be unable to collect on itsown due to Fourth Amendment or statutory prohibitions.This paper argues that when fourth-parties disclose to lawenforcement information generated as a result of searchesthat would be violations had the government conducted the
* J.D. Candidate 2010, Columbia University School of Law; B.A.Politics 2006, Brandeis University. The author thanks Judge Debra AnnLivingston and Professor Harold S. H. Edgar for their invaluable advice,guidance, and feedback in the preparation of this piece. The author alsogratefully acknowledges Michael Willes, David Zylberberg, and theColumbia Business Law Review staff for their excellent editing assistance.
 
 
 No. 3:950]
 BUYIG YOU 
951
 
searches itself, those fourth-parties’ actions should beconsidered searches by agents of the government, and thedata should retain privacy protections.
I.
 
Introduction ............................................................... 951
 
II.
 
The State of the Law: Protection is Limited ............. 957
 
 A.
 
Fourth Amendment Application ......................... 960
 
B.
 
Third-Party Disclosures ...................................... 964
 
C.
 
Private Searches ................................................. 968
 
1.
 
Scope of the Search ........................................ 969
 
2.
 
Standing Idly By ............................................ 973
 
D.
 
Statutory Scheme ............................................... 975
 
III.
 
The Technological Reality ......................................... 979
 
 A.
 
The State of Technology ..................................... 980
 
B.
 
Government Relationships with Third-Parties .. 984
 
1.
 
 Asking Third-Parties ..................................... 984
 
2. Third-Parties Volunteering ........................... 986
 
C. Fourth-Party Acquisition and Analysis of UserInformation ......................................................... 990
 
1.
 
ChoicePoint, a LexisNexis Company ............. 993
 
2.
 
Science Applications InternationalCorporation .................................................... 996
 
3.
 
Data Laundering and Lack of Sanctions....... 997
 
IV.
 
Salvaging the Situation ............................................ 999
 
 A.
 
General Proposals ............................................... 999
 
B.
 
Coping with Fourth-Parties .............................. 1003
 
1.
 
Fourth-Party Disclosure Not Corrosive toPrivacy ......................................................... 1004
 
2.
 
Fourth-Party Searches Not Private ............ 1007
 
3.
 
Counterargument: Legislation .................... 1009
 
 V.
 
Conclusion ............................................................... 1011
 
I. INTRODUCTION
 Your information is for sale, and the government isbuying it at alarming rates. The CIA, FBI, JusticeDepartment, Defense Department, and other governmentagencies are, at this very moment, turning to a group of companies to provide them with information that these

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