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posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 30, @11:33PM   Printer-friendly

NSA finally admits to spying on Americans by purchasing sensitive data:

The National Security Agency (NSA) has admitted to buying records from data brokers detailing which websites and apps Americans use, US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) revealed Thursday.

This news follows Wyden's push last year that forced the FBI to admit that it was also buying Americans' sensitive data. Now, the senator is calling on all intelligence agencies to "stop buying personal data from Americans that has been obtained illegally by data brokers."

"The US government should not be funding and legitimizing a shady industry whose flagrant violations of Americans' privacy are not just unethical but illegal," Wyden said in a letter to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines. "To that end, I request that you adopt a policy that, going forward," intelligence agencies "may only purchase data about Americans that meets the standard for legal data sales established by the FTC."

Wyden suggested that the intelligence community might be helping data brokers violate an FTC order requiring that Americans are provided "clear and conspicuous" disclosures and give informed consent before their data can be sold to third parties. In the seven years that Wyden has been investigating data brokers, he said that he has not been made "aware of any company that provides such a warning to users before collecting their data."

The FTC's order came after reaching a settlement with a data broker called X-Mode, which admitted to selling sensitive location data without user consent and even to selling data after users revoked consent.

In his letter, Wyden referred to this order as the FTC outlining "new rules," but that's not exactly what happened. Instead of issuing rules, FTC settlements often serve as "common law," signaling to marketplaces which practices violate laws like the FTC Act.

According to the FTC's analysis of the order on its site, X-Mode violated the FTC Act by "unfairly selling sensitive data, unfairly failing to honor consumers' privacy choices, unfairly collecting and using consumer location data, unfairly collecting and using consumer location data without consent verification, unfairly categorizing consumers based on sensitive characteristics for marketing purposes, deceptively failing to disclose use of location data, and providing the means and instrumentalities to engage in deceptive acts or practices."

The FTC declined to comment on whether the order also applies to data purchases by intelligence agencies. In defining "location data," the FTC order seems to carve out exceptions for any data collected outside the US and used for either "security purposes" or "national security purposes conducted by federal agencies or other federal entities."

NSA officials told Wyden that not only is the intelligence agency purchasing data on Americans located in the US but that it also bought Americans' Internet metadata.

[...] In response to Wyden's letter to Haines, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, Ronald Moultrie, said that the Department of Defense (DoD) "adheres to high standards of privacy and civil liberties protections" when buying Americans' location data. He also said that he was "not aware of any requirement in US law or judicial opinion" forcing the DoD to "obtain a court order in order to acquire, access, or use" commercially available information that "is equally available for purchase to foreign adversaries, US companies, and private persons as it is to the US government."

In another response to Wyden, NSA leader General Paul Nakasone told Wyden that the "NSA takes steps to minimize the collection of US person information" and "continues to acquire only the most useful data relevant to mission requirements." That includes some commercially available information on Americans "where one side of the communications is a US Internet Protocol address and the other is located abroad," data which Nakasone said is "critical to protecting the US Defense Industrial Base" that sustains military weapons systems.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 30, @11:47PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 30, @11:47PM (#1342459)

    I like to think our TLAs are pretty good a their jobs.

    Their jobs include: compartmentalization, keeping secrets, collecting intelligence...

    Transparency is always the answer, but transparency would put these Clouseaus out of a job.

    🌻🌻 []
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by crafoo on Wednesday January 31, @02:41AM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Wednesday January 31, @02:41AM (#1342469)

      they aren't. they're notoriously corrupt and full of midwits. Dept of Treasuring, for instance, is known to be one of the most corrupt. probably because they directly enforce and around around counterfeiting criminals and equipment. Almost every executive branch dept has their own "direction action" teams and are mostly extremely corrupt and directed towards USA citizens. We tried fighting this by, for instance, breaking up much of the CIA into pieces and spreading the capabilities around between different depts. That just seems to have spread the corruption.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 31, @12:51PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 31, @12:51PM (#1342498)

        I believe this is another case of yes, and no.

        Approximately 35,000 employees, how many bunglers do you know of? Not even 3500 I suspect.

        Hanging 10 or 20% of your operation out in the press as incompetent fools let's another 20-40% get down to serious business, while the others keep up appearances of being semi competent and law abiding to keep the funding flowing.

        🌻🌻 []
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Mojibake Tengu on Wednesday January 31, @12:22AM (1 child)

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Wednesday January 31, @12:22AM (#1342462) Journal

    The concept of revoked consent is a childish game. Without real technical barrier in place it has no function. Never will have.

    Recent article by Paul Edwards:

    The American Empire has not represented the interests of its people for decades, if it ever did, and has only kept them in a kind of mental and emotional lockdown through controlling their perception of reality. []

    That's the correct observation, mental and emotional lockdown is the permanent state of mind of The People.

    Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by khallow on Wednesday January 31, @01:28AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 31, @01:28AM (#1342465) Journal
      What a profoundly terrible article:

      The techniques of propaganda are refined, but their effect is entirely due to grotesque pandering to the worst susceptibilities of the human ego: the desire to assert one’s superlative worth as a member of a powerful, violent, conquering nation. The force of that tactic, endlessly repeated, rendered American citizenry, with rare exceptions, one solid, deluded, unthinking mass, devoted to whatever vicious, imperial ends the political elite intended.

      Their trained mass response, sure as that of performing seals, has, for the first time ever, failed in regard to the Gaza genocide.

      Even if we were to accept that the Gaza genocide is a real thing, it's quite clear that the side interpreting this as genocide is fighting a losing battle. The big problems are the heinous actions of Hamas both during the initial attack and later, the inability of the would-be truth tellers to coherently state what makes the alleged genocide an actual genocide, and influential people losing their jobs over being on the wrong side of that propaganda. On that last point, two college presidents lost their jobs because they blew off anti-semitism on college campuses.

      My take is that this guy is an utter fool. The alleged source of propaganda just isn't that good, whether it be a national government or something with magic Zionist cooties. So this isn't a first time for propaganda failure. Second, Hamas deliberately stoked the Israeli response. I continue to find it interesting how incurious so many people are about that, yet they have their antennae out tasting for delicate traces of propaganda.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Tork on Wednesday January 31, @01:53AM (4 children)

    by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 31, @01:53AM (#1342466)
    It's a pity that we're under video surveillance all the time yet we didn't use the pandemic to normalize mask-wearing.
    🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 2) by ncc74656 on Friday February 02, @08:41PM (3 children)

      by ncc74656 (4917) on Friday February 02, @08:41PM (#1342859) Homepage

      It's a pity that we're under video surveillance all the time yet we didn't use the pandemic to normalize mask-wearing.

      Baa! [] Normalizing the abnormal is abhorrent.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday February 02, @08:51PM (2 children)

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 02, @08:51PM (#1342862)
        "We're increasingly being recorded, but acting to thwart that means we're sheep so..."
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
        • (Score: 2) by ncc74656 on Wednesday February 07, @12:05AM (1 child)

          by ncc74656 (4917) on Wednesday February 07, @12:05AM (#1343421) Homepage
          Perhaps I should've trimmed the quote more. My issue was with you wanting Face Diapers to be normalized. :-P
          • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday February 07, @12:45AM

            by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 07, @12:45AM (#1343427)
            I understood that. My point is that not wearing them for the sake of not wearing them is no better than "normalizing face diapers". You can be a sheep by wearing them, you can be a sheep by avoiding them. So it's a question of "which is better"? I personally like the idea of getting sick less and it being more difficult to be surveilled. Whatcha got that's better?
            🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Wednesday January 31, @03:57AM (1 child)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Wednesday January 31, @03:57AM (#1342473)


    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RS3 on Wednesday January 31, @02:44PM

      by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday January 31, @02:44PM (#1342510)

      There may be a glimmer of hope. []

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the seizure of 700 safety deposit boxes under the process of civil asset forfeiture went beyond the warrant issued and violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.

      The case began in 2021, when the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) obtained a warrant to search a storage facility in Beverly Hills, California, as part of its investigation into the company US Private Vaults for the alleged crime of money laundering, stating the agency would only inventory the safety deposit boxes. Some of the 700 safety deposit boxes seized in the raid where allegedly related to the investigation, but others were not. Those whose safety deposit boxes were seized that were not related to the investigation attempted to get their safety deposit boxes back from the FBI, but the FBI initially stated it would keep the safety deposit boxes and the property in them through the process of civil asset forfeiture. It later returned the deposit boxes to the owners who were not involved in the investigation.

      IMHO, it's sad, maybe tragic, that we can't trust the very people we pay to protect us.