- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security is investigating its employees’ alleged warrantless surveillance, according to a letter from Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari to five Democratic senators.

In October, five Democrats wrote to DHS’ inspector general to ask that he investigate the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s alleged warrantless domestic surveillance of cellphones via technology developed by a government contractor.

This week, Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, published a reply he and the other Democrats received from DHS’ inspector general saying that it would investigate whether DHS violated policies involving cellphone surveillance.

“The objective of our audit is to determine if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and [its] components have developed, updated, and adhered to policies related to cellphone surveillance devices,” Mr. Cuffari wrote to the Democratic senators. “In addition, you may be interested in our audit to review DHS’ use and protection of open source intelligence. Open source intelligence, while different from cell phone surveillance, includes the Department’s use of information provided by the public via cellular devices, such as social media status updates, geo-tagged photos, and specific location check-ins.”

Upon receiving the letter from the inspector general, Mr. Wyden said the public deserves answers about whether federal agencies are tracking American citizens without warrants and he intended to get accountability.

Alongside Mr. Wyden, the other Democrats that requested an investigation included Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“Americans are increasingly concerned that they cannot travel, move, or go about their daily lives without being tracked,” Mr. Markey said in a statement. “Information about where we are and where we have been is highly sensitive, and it’s time for answers about exactly how the Department of Homeland Security is accessing this type of data.”

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