WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. State Department is giving 25 “law enforcement and intelligence agencies unrestricted access to the personal data of more than 145 million Americans” without legal process or apparent oversight prior to access, according to Yahoo News.
Senator Wyden, whose letter reportedly contained these revelations, called on Secretary of State Blinken to provide detailed information on this sharing of information, which is not required by law, violates Americans’ expectations of privacy, and is ripe for abuse. The database likely contains information including biometric data (such as facial images and photographs), email addresses, phone numbers, racial identification, and more.
“Sen. Wyden is right to raise the alarm regarding the State Department’s mishandling of sensitive personal information of 145 million Americans. We have already seen passport information misused by federal agencies, including to gather detailed personal information on a congressional staffer, a journalist, and her family, and it is highly likely that an investigation will identify additional abuses,” said Sean Vikta, Senior Policy Counsel at Demand Progress Education Fund. “Sharing information of this kind, especially in such an indiscriminate manner and without privacy protections or legally required procedures, allows untold federal agents to engage in problematic fishing expeditions and creates vulnerabilities like the one that allowed foreign adversaries to steal 22.1 million records concerning applications for security clearances.”