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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: 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.
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  • (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.