NSA buys browsing data

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The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been purchasing Americans' internet browsing data from commercial data brokers without obtaining warrants, as confirmed by the agency's director in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden13478. This practice involves buying what is described as netflow data, which is the technical information generated by devices as they use the internet, but does not include the content of communications4. The NSA has stated that this data is used for its cybersecurity mission and to support its foreign intelligence activities415. The NSA has taken steps to minimize the collection of U.S. person information and applies technical filters to this end34. However, the data collected can be sensitive and may include information associated with electronic devices being used within the United States38. The NSA does not purchase cellphone location data or location data from automobile telematics systems8. Senator Wyden, who has been a privacy advocate, has criticized the practice as unlawful and has called for the intelligence community to stop using Americans' personal data without their express knowledge and consent39. He has also urged the Director of National Intelligence to ensure that intelligence agencies conduct an inventory of the personal data they have purchased and to purge any data that does not comply with legal standards39. This revelation has raised concerns about privacy and the legal gray zone in which the NSA's data purchasing operates, as it bypasses the traditional warrant process typically required for government agencies to obtain such information7917. The practice has been disclosed following a three-year effort by Senator Wyden to make this information public89.
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