Senator Ron Wyden exposes a shocking NSA scandal, revealing the illegal purchase and sale of Americans’ data. In a damning revelation, he states, ‘NSA’s covert dealings in unlawfully obtaining data impact smartphone users, with serious privacy breaches.’ This exposé demands urgent attention and action. The senator’s open letter discloses the disturbing practice of acquiring personal data illegally, urging immediate cessation and data purging. With privacy breaches and potential legal violations, Wyden emphasizes the sensitivity of location data and calls for a comprehensive response to safeguard citizens’ privacy.
Senator Ron Wyden has blown the lid off a startling NSA scandal, shedding light on the clandestine purchase and sale of Americans’ data. In a groundbreaking revelation, Senator Wyden underscores the gravity of the situation, stating, “NSA’s covert dealings in unlawfully obtaining data impact smartphone users, with serious privacy breaches.” This exposé demands urgent attention and decisive action to address the alarming implications of the agency’s practices.
The Open Letter and Unlawful Data Acquisition
Senator Wyden’s open letter to the US Director of National Intelligence serves as the linchpin of this revelation. The letter unveils a disturbing practice wherein the NSA acquires personal data illegally obtained from smartphone users through the very apps designed to capture such sensitive information. The senator, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, calls for an immediate cessation of this practice and urges the purging of existing data obtained through illegal means.
App developers, as Senator Wyden highlights, are required by law to disclose how they utilize personal information captured from users. However, a significant lapse occurs when these developers, in contravention of regulations, sell users’ personal data, including location history, through data brokers to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).
Despite legal action taken against data brokers, such as X-Mode Social, the NSA continues to procure this data indirectly, circumventing the need for a search warrant that would be mandatory if obtained directly from developers or internet service providers.
Privacy Breaches and Legal Implications
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), acting as the closest thing the US has to a federal privacy regulator, has explicitly ruled this practice illegal. In a case against X-Mode Social, the FTC emphasizes the necessity for developers to inform users explicitly if their data will be sold to US intelligence agencies. Senator Wyden stresses the sensitivity of location data, expressing concerns about tracking individuals to places such as medical facilities, religious institutions, LGBTQ+ identification spaces, and shelters for domestic abuse survivors.
Further Revelations and Demand for Prohibition
The second news article adds another layer to the NSA’s controversial actions. Senator Wyden asserts that the NSA’s purchase of Americans’ internet records from data brokers is illegal, citing a recent Federal Trade Commission ruling. The documents released by the senator reveal that senior defense officials acknowledge buying commercial data, including internet metadata and information associated with phones within the US. The NSA, after resisting public disclosure for three years, only conceded to release the information when Senator Wyden placed a hold on the nomination of the incoming NSA director.
In response to these revelations, Senator Wyden demands that the Biden administration prohibits intelligence agencies from buying personal data procured from data brokers. The senator emphasizes that internet metadata is equally sensitive as geolocation data, covered by the recent FTC order. He calls for a policy ensuring intelligence community elements only purchase data about Americans that meets the standard for legal data sales set by the FTC.
Addressing the Crisis
The documents released by Senator Wyden also highlight that the NSA purchases commercial data, including information associated with phones both inside and outside the United States. The agency justifies its use of this data for lawful intelligence or cybersecurity missions, following applicable legal and regulatory authorities.
To address the crisis, Senator Wyden urges the US Director of National Intelligence to audit personal data held on US citizens, identify illegally collected and sold data, and purge such data from intelligence community records. This call to action aims to rectify the legal gray area in which the data broker industry and the intelligence community have operated, as underscored by the recent FTC order.
Senator Ron Wyden’s revelations regarding the NSA’s covert practices in obtaining and utilizing Americans’ data paint a disturbing picture of privacy breaches and potential legal violations. The urgency of the matter is emphasized through the senator’s call for immediate action, including audits, identification, and purging of unlawfully obtained data.
The NSA scandal unfolds, the public awaits a comprehensive response to address these serious concerns and safeguard the privacy of American citizens. The profound impact of these revelations warrants not just attention but swift and decisive measures to protect the fundamental right to privacy.