Commercially available data from cars, phones and web browsers rivals results from wiretaps, cyber espionage and physical surveillance. A newly declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reveals that the federal government is buying troves of data about Americans.
The United States government has been secretly amassing a “large amount” of “sensitive and intimate information” on its own citizens, a group of senior advisers informed Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, more than a year ago.
The report from the Director of National Intelligence has unveiled that the U.S. government is buying vast quantities of Americans’ personal data generated by our cars, smartphones, and web browsers, mirroring the results of intrusive surveillance techniques and posing significant threats to privacy. The partially declassified report is dated January 2022. Its author was redacted, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to a request for comment on the authors.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government is exploiting commercially available information (CAI) to learn everything it can about private citizens. This data, sourced from cars, phones, and web browsers, has become so extensive that it replicates the results of intrusive surveillance techniques such as wiretaps, cyber espionage, or physical surveillance.
Commercially purchased data “can reveal sensitive and intimate information about the personal attributes, private behavior, social connections, and speech of U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons,” the report said. “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.”
Office of the Director of National Intelligence Senior Advisory Group Panel on Commercially Available Information