June 20, 2006

Congressional investigators estimated the U.S. government spent $30 million last year buying personal data from private brokers. But that number likely understates the breadth of transactions, since brokers said they rarely charge law enforcement agencies any price.

In the article, several of these brokers say they provide free services to the government, and also basically say that they do illegal things to get the information. One company even explicitly says that it breaks the law. The government officials hiring the brokers say they don't research whether or not the brokers do illegal things because their services are fast and they are on the internet. Brokers do things like impersonate people to get information.

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