The Biden administration is considering using private firms to track the online activity of American citizens in order to get around the Fourth Amendment and other laws that protect Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures and surveillance. The report says that the Biden administration wants to monitor “extremist chatter by Americans online” but can’t do so without a warrant, and thinks private firms can get around the legal restrictions.
Federal authorities “can only browse through unprotected information on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and other open online platforms,” according to CNN.
The plan being discussed inside DHS, according to multiple sources, would, in effect, allow the department to circumvent” restrictions the U.S. government has to surveil American citizens. “A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge.
“By partnering with research firms who have more visibility in this space, the DHS could produce information that would likely be beneficial to both it and the FBI, which can’t monitor US citizens in this way without first getting a warrant or having the pretext of an ongoing investigation,” explains CNN. “The CIA and NSA are also limited on collecting intelligence domestically.”