• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Data Brokers May Act Illegally

Jun 23, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Although the federal government and local law enforcement agencies nationwide use private data brokers, the FBI said that practices used by these companies to gather private phone records without warrants or subpoenas is illegal, according to an Associated Press article on

A senior FBI lawyer, Elaine N. Lammert, told lawmakers the bureau was still surveying agents around the United States, but so far has found no “systemic” use of data brokers by the FBI.

The AP reports that Lammert, the bureau’s deputy general counsel for its investigative law branch, told a congressional panel: “There are compelling reasons for the government to believe that these operations violate federal law.”

Lawmakers agreed. According to Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, they “compromise sensitive law enforcement information, compromise operational security or maybe just violate the Constitution.”

The article reports that internal corporate documents turned over to Congress by some data brokers include e-mails in which workers described efforts to impersonate targets of investigations to trick telephone carriers into revealing private calling records.

The AP reported Tuesday that numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered phone records from data brokers, who nearly always turned over the information for free.

Compiled by Paul Kerstein

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