FBI admits to circumventing warrant laws by using capitalism instead

Surprise! The FBI has been involved in warrantless surveillance! But that's not particularly surprising; we've known that for a while now (even in some pundits like to pretend as if it's absolutely unprecedented when the FBI occasionally stops monitoring Muslims, Black rights, and environmental activists and turns their attention to money laundering networks surrounding right-wing politicians). What's more interesting is how the FBI has been obtaining this surveillance data, during a time of heightened scrutiny. From Wired (emphasis mine):

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged for the first time that it purchased US location data rather than obtaining a warrant. […] The disclosure came today during a US Senate hearing on global threats attended by five of the nation's intelligence chiefs. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, put the question of the bureau's use of commercial data to its director, Christopher Wray: "Does the FBI purchase US phone-geolocation information?" Wray said his agency was not currently doing so, but he acknowledged that it had in the past. He also limited his response to data companies gathered specifically for advertising purposes. 

"To my knowledge, we do not currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising," Wray said. "I understand that we previously—as in the past—purchased some such information for a specific national security pilot project. But that's not been active for some time." He added that the bureau now relies on a "court-authorized process" to obtain location data from companies. 

In other words, the FBI circumvented the legal process by just … participating in the capitalist system. Though I suppose that's not particularly surprising either — the US legal system has always been tilted in favor of the capitalist class. While so many lower-class Americans rot in prison cells for failing to pay exorbitant fines, corporations enjoy the privilege of paying disproportionately small fines (read: fees) for engaging in things like gross negligence or environmental damage, which have much broader and much more negative impacts on society than who can't afford to pay a parking ticket.

I suppose it's also not surprising that the FBI purchased location data considering that the Department of Homeland Security is already known to have engaged in similar tactics. Still, it's notable that this is the first time the FBI just straight-up admitted it.

The FBI Just Admitted It Bought US Location Data [Dell Cameron / Wired]