Senator Calls for U.S. Intelligence to Purge All Personal Data About Americans Acquired via Illegal Data Sales

"Although the intelligence agencies warrantless purchase of Americans personal data is now a matter of public record, recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the primary federal privacy regulator, raise serious questions about the legality of this practice."

Senator Calls for U.S. Intelligence to Purge All Personal Data About Americans Acquired via Illegal Data Sales
Source: Chris Yang.
  • "On January 9 , 2024, the FTC brought an action against the data broker X -Mode Social, which I first exposed in 2020 after the company's lawyers confirmed that it was selling data collected from phones in the United States to U.S. military customers, via defense contractors. The FTC held that such sensitive data sales are unlawful unless the data was obtained through consumer's informed consent," wrote Senator Ron Wyden in a letter to Director of National Intelligence.
"According to the FTC, it is not enough for a consumer to consent to an app or website collecting such data, the consumer must be told and agree to their data being sold to government contractors for national security purposes."
  • "I have conducted a broad probe of the data broker industry over the past seven years, and I am unaware of any company that provides such warnings to consumers before their data is collected. As such, the lawbreaking is likely industry wide, and not limited to this particular data broker," continued Senator Wyden.
  • "The FTC's order against X -Mode Social should serve as a much-needed wake-upcall for the IC. The U.S. government should not be funding and legitimizing a shady industry whose flagrant violations of Americans privacy are not just unethical, but illegal. To that end, I request that you adopt a policy that, going forward, IC elements may only purchase data about Americans that meets the standard for legal data sales established by the FTC."
  • The senator also asked the IC to perform an inventory of purchased personal data about Americans to determine if each data source meets the standards for legal personal data sales as outlined by the FTC.
"Where those data purchases do not meet the standard for legal data personal data sales, promptly purge the data. Should IC elements have a specific need to retain the data, request that such need, and a description of any retained data, be conveyed to Congress and, to the greatest extent possible, to the American public."

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