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DEA paid Amtrak secretary $854,460 for data they could have had for free

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The informant received payments over the course of nearly 20 years

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) paid out nearly $854,460 for private, personal information about Amtrak passengers that it could have otherwise obtained for free through its affliation with a joint drug enforcement task force. The Associated Press reports that the sum was paid out over the course of 20 years to an unnamed secretary working for a "train and engine crew." The unidentified informant has since been allowed to retire instead of facing administrative discipline.

Although the transactions were performed without express approval from Amtrak, the Associated Press notes that the company's corporate privacy policy does allow it to sell or share such data to contractors or "certain trustworthy business partners." Although the specifics aren't provided, transportation services like Amtrak collate passenger information like emergency contacts, passports, travel itineraries, and baggage details. Senator Chuck Grassley from the Senate Judiciary Commitee reportedly described the situation as an "unnecessary expense" and said it "raises some serious questions about the DEA's practices." The agency's spokesperson Matt Barden has declined to comment on the matter.