NSA admits to buying Americans’ web browsing data from brokers without warrants

The The director confirmed that the agency was getting Americans’ internet browsing data from brokers without first obtaining a warrant. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has blocked the appointment of incoming NSA director Timothy Haugh until the agency answers his questions about Americans’ location and Internet data collection. Wyden said he has been trying to “make public the fact that the NSA is buying Americans’ internet records” for three years.

In , the current director of the NSA, Paul Nakasone, confirmed to Wyden that the agency has made such purchases from brokers. “The NSA acquires different types [commercially available information] for foreign intelligence, cybersecurity, and other authorized mission purposes, including improving its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and cybersecurity missions,” Nakasone wrote. “This may include information about electronic devices used outside and, in some cases, inside the United States. states.”

Nakasone further claimed that the NSA “does not purchase or use location data collected from phones known to be in use in the United States, with or without a court order. Similarly, the NSA does not purchase or use location data collected from vehicle telematics systems. of known cars.”

This was reported by the NSA spokesperson that the agency makes little use of such data, but that it has significant value for national security and cybersecurity purposes. “At all stages, the NSA takes steps to minimize the collection of US [personal] information, including the application of technical filters,” the spokesperson said.

Wyden called this practice illegal. “Such records can identify Americans who seek help from a suicide hotline or a hotline for survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence,” he said.

The senator called on Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to order US intelligence agencies to stop collecting Americans’ personal information without consent. He also asked Haines to direct intelligence agencies to “maintain an inventory of personal information the agency purchases about Americans, including, but not limited to, location and Internet metadata.” Wyden said any information that does not comply with Federal Trade Commission standards for the sale of personal information must be deleted.

Wyden pointed out banned data brokers from selling location data. The agency claimed that it was sold to buyers, including government contractors, “and could be used to track people’s visits to sensitive locations such as medical and reproductive health clinics, places of religious worship, and domestic violence shelters.”

The FTC noted in its complaint against the broker formerly known as “by failing to fully inform consumers of how their information would be used and whether their information would be provided to government contractors for national security purposes, X-Mode did not provide consumers with informational materials and did not obtain informed consent from consumers to collect information and use their location information.”

The settlement was first in line with the data broker. Wyden, who has researched the data brokerage industry for several years, said he is “not aware of any company that has issued such a warning to users. [regarding their consent] before collecting your data.”

The issue of US federal agencies purchasing phone location data is not entirely new. In 2020, Customs and Border Protection emerged . The following year, Wyden claimed and He used Americans’ phones to get location data.

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