US Gov’t Fails to Offer ‘Essential Safeguards’ for Americans’ ‘Data Privacy’

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lack of oversight, government regulation, data privacy issues, us intelligence community, handling personal information, acquired from commercial data brokers, partially declassified report, the federal bureau of investigation (fbi), the defense intelligence agency, buy information from data brokers, commercially available information, cai, sensitive and intimate information, sen. ron wyden (d-ore.), to pry into private lives, threaten the safety of individuals.

lack of oversight, government regulation, data privacy issues, us intelligence community, handling personal information, acquired from commercial data brokers, partially declassified report, the federal bureau of investigation (fbi), the defense intelligence agency, buy information from data brokers, commercially available information, cai, sensitive and intimate information, sen. ron wyden (d-ore.), to pry into private lives, threaten the safety of individuals.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) requested the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to gain insight into how the US intelligence agencies buy and store commercially available personal data of Americans.

Lack of oversight and government regulation into how the US intelligence community handles personal information acquired from commercial data brokers may pose a threat to Americans, a partially declassified report shows.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, US Navy, and Coast Guard all buy information from data brokers, per the report, dated January 2022, whose author was redacted. However, the “commercially available information” or CAI, “can reveal sensitive and intimate information about the personal attributes, private behavior, social connections, and speech of US persons and non-US persons,” the report requested by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) warned.

The intelligence community acquires vast amounts of CAI for “mission-related purposes, including in some cases social media data,” revealed the report that Wyden had requested the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, to release.

“It can be misused to pry into private lives, ruin reputations, and cause emotional distress and threaten the safety of individuals. Even subject to appropriate controls, CAI can increase the power of the government’s ability to peer into private lives to levels that may exceed our constitutional traditions or other social expectations.”

While US politicians have been trying to ban TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, arguing that they pose a security risk due to their supposed connections to the Communist Party of China – something that Beijing and TikTok owner ByteDance have both denied – they are possibly failing to address the broader data privacy issues at home.

On their websites, data brokers such as LexisNexis, Exactis, and Thomson Reuters CLEAR offer information collected from a broad variety of sources. For example, when tracking down criminals, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bought such data from CLEAR as per the report. The Defense Intelligence Agency, it stated, had been contracting LexisNexis, while the FBI turned to a Baltimore, Maryland-based cyber-security firm ZeroFox when it scoured social media for threat alerts.

“Today, in a way that far fewer Americans seem to understand, and even fewer of them can avoid, [commercially available data] includes information on nearly everyone that is of a type and level of sensitivity that historically could have been obtained, if at all, only through targeted (and predicated) collection, and that could be used to cause harm to an individual’s reputation, emotional well-being, or physical safety,” the report stated.

The report also warned that such sensitive data about “millions of Americans” could be purchased by other, private-sector entities, besides US government agencies. Furthermore, there is nothing to stop governments worldwide from acquiring such data on Americans, the report said.

European Commission  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.06.2023

Google Forced to Delay Launch of Bard Chatbot in EU Over Data Privacy Concerns – Watchdog

“This review shows the government’s existing policies have failed to provide essential safeguards for Americans’ privacy, or oversight of how agencies buy and use personal data. Congress needs to pass legislation to put guardrails around government purchases, to rein in private companies that collect and sell this data, and keep Americans’ personal information out of the hands of our adversaries,” Wyden underscored in a statement to the press.





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