According to an unclassified letter released Thursday, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been purchasing Americans' internet browsing data from commercial brokers without warrants.1
In the letter addressed to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the NSA's director, Paul Nakasone, has revealed that the purchases include 'netflow' data associated with electronic devices used domestically as well as abroad.2
The agency claims the information is highly valuable for national security and cybersecurity missions, adding that it 'takes steps to minimize' the data collection, including by using technical filters.3
However, Wyden argued that collecting Americans' private records without informed consent violates the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) rules on data selling.4
Earlier this month, the FTC banned Virginia-based data broker Outlogic (formerly X-Mode Social) from sharing or selling consumers' sensitive location data.5
Meanwhile, Wyden has requested the Biden administration to restrict intelligence agencies' data purchases, arguing that 'such records can identify Americans who are seeking help' for addiction, sexual assault, and domestic abuse, among others.6
Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Apple Insider. Intelligence agencies aren't indulging in intrusive or unchecked surveillance. The Pentagon adheres to high standards of privacy and civil liberties protections when buying Americans' data to address cyber warfare, terrorism, and espionage threats. National security matters don't require US intelligence officials to obtain a court order or consent to buy, share, or use information that's also commercially available to private companies or individuals.
Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Wired. The US intelligence agencies have been buying personal data of unsuspecting Americans for years, endangering the citizens by exposing their visits to sensitive locations, including domestic violence shelters. Violating Americans' privacy isn't just unethical but illegal. The federal government should stop funding and legitimizing a shady industry, outlaw the purchases, and end the contentious surveillance program immediately.