US National Security Agency (NSA) director Paul Nakasone has confirmed that the agency purchases personal data from web brokers without a warrant.
In a letter to Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, the agency’s director stated that the data collected by the NSA, “may include information associated with electronic devices being used outside - and, in certain cases, inside - the United States."
Senator Wyden, who is an advocate of internet freedom and the right to privacy, stated that, "such records can identify Americans who are seeking help from a suicide hotline or a hotline for survivors of sexual assault or domestic abuse."
Calls for data regulation at the highest level
Senator Wyden argues that the use of personal information without consent and knowledge is illegal and that the NSA should submit all of its collected data on individuals to a database, so that the agency adheres to the same standards imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on other organizations. Data that does not fall within these standards would then be purged from use.
Wyden recently stopped incoming NSA director Timothy Haugh from serving as director, prompting the NSA to confirm the purchase of personal data. Wyden had been seeking this confirmation for almost three years in his battle to ensure that the personal data of American citizens remains personal.
Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee which provides oversight on the activities of US intelligence agencies. The Defense Intelligence Agency also previously confirmed its purchase and use of personal data collected from the phones of Americans in 2021.
The NSA responded to Wyden in an email explaining that the agency passes individual data through “technical filters” at all stages of the collection process, and the data they do gather is used for national and cybersecurity purposes.
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