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House Passes Bill Requiring Law Enforcement To Disclose User Data Seizures

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday amending the federal criminal code to require law enforcement agencies to inform data users when their private data has been obtained from tech companies.

The bill, known as the NDO Fairness Act, requires the government to inform private individuals if their data is subpoenaed from a technology company, according to the text of the bill. It requires that such disclosure be provided within “5 business days,” and if the user wants to view the data collected, it is provided to them within 180 days.

The bill passed with a bipartisan 412- 0 vote. The legislation was sponsored by Republican Rep. Scott Fitzgerald of Wisconsin and Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who both had previously sponsored similar legislation in 2022.

The bill’s provisions apply to the government’s obtaining of private data in criminal investigations and does not affect data gathering for foreign intelligence and national security purposes. It also does not affect the government’s obtaining and review of open-source information — e.g., public social media posts, news articles, and published data packets — for investigations, which is commonly done by federal law enforcement agencies through the use of “assessments,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

“Under current law, the federal government can access U.S. citizens’ data without letting them know. “The NDO Fairness Act is bipartisan legislation that protects Americans’ data privacy by preventing the abuse of ‘gag’ orders and requiring the federal government to notify individuals under investigation,” Fitzgerald said in a press release.

In a previous statement, Nadler said, “rather than providing Americans with meaningful notice that their private electronic records are being accessed in a criminal investigation, the Department hides behind its ability to ask third-party providers directly.”

House Republicans have been critical of federal law enforcement agencies, chiefly the FBI and the Department of Justice for alleged attempts to target conservatives with investigative and prosecutorial powers, sometimes in collaboration with Big Tech companies. Upon taking the majority earlier this year, House Republicans voted to create the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which was opposed by all Democrats.

The bill’s prospects in the Senate are uncertain, though a similar bipartisan bill was jointly introduced in 2022 by now-retired Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. That bill, a companion to the Nadler–Fitzgerald bill in 2022, did not pass the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 117th Congress ended.

Fitzgerald, Lee and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer didn’t immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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