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U.S. Agencies Are Buying Access to Bulk Internet Records

Gizmodo – “Sen. Ron Wyden urged inspectors general at three departments to investigate the military’s purchases of large swaths of data: “Multiple military intelligence offices have paid a data broker for access to internet traffic logs, which could reveal the online browsing histories of U.S. citizens, Sen. Ron Wyden said in a letter Wednesday, citing an anonymous whistleblower that had contacted his office. At least four agencies within the United States Department of Defense, including the Army and Navy, have collectively spent at least $3.5 million on a little-known data monitoring tool with the reported ability to provide access to vast swaths of email data and web browsing activity. Team Cymru, the Florida-based cybersecurity firm behind the tool, claims its product provides customers with a “super majority of all activity on the internet” and “visibility” into more than 90% of internet traffic. The previously unknown government procurements, revealed in a Wednesday Vice report, have already triggered alarm bells from a prominent U.S. Senator and the American Civil Liberties Union, which told Gizmodo there’s still far too little known about how the DoD’s making use of the tool which can “reveal extremely sensitive information about who we are and what we’re reading online,” Sen. Ron Wyden wrote. At the very least, the purchase represents the latest example of government agencies potentially finessing their way around constitutional protections by seeking out data from shady data brokers and other private firms. Wyden wrote Wednesday to the inspectors general at the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, urging an investigation of their respective agencies’ purchase of the data, saying he had confirmed that “multiple government agencies are purchasing Americans’ data without judicial authorization…”

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