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Big Brother meets Big Tech: Memo reveals military spies can just BUY personal data with tax money – no need for warrant

Big Brother meets Big Tech: Memo reveals military spies can just BUY personal data with tax money – no need for warrant

Postby smix » Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:34 pm

Big Brother meets Big Tech: Memo reveals military spies can just BUY personal data with tax money – no need for warrant
RT

URL: https://www.rt.com/usa/513401-military-spies-buy-data/
Category: Politics
Published: January 22, 2021

Description: Using smartphone information bought from data brokers enabled the US Defense Intelligence Agency to spy on people without a warrant, including some Americans, the DIA admitted in a memo to a senator that’s now been made public. The Defense Intelligence Agency focuses on foreign threats, but has searched for movements of American citizens at least five times over the past two and a half years, using cell phone data collected and sold by commercial brokers, according to an unclassified memo sent this week to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).
New: The military arm of the intelligence community has searched for information about Americans' movements without a warrant in a commercially available database of smartphone app locational data, per DIA memo for @RonWyden .
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) January 22, 2021

That specific time frame is due to the US Supreme Court decision in Carpenter v. United States, dated June 2018, which held that the government must obtain a warrant to get location data on cell phone users. However, the DIA “does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the New York Times reported on Friday, citing the memo to Wyden. Makers of many smartphone apps can and do log the users’ locations, which are often sold to brokers – and they, in turn, resell it to advertisers as well as law enforcement and spies, apparently. In what is perhaps the most famous example yet, Vice reported in November that US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) had used cutouts to buy data on users of MuslimPro, a prayer schedule app downloaded by some 100 million people. DIA did not identify which broker it was buying the data from, saying only that they sold bulk records that did not separate Americans from foreigners. Instead, the military spies filter the records for those that “appear to be” on US soil and place them in a separate database, the Wyden memo revealed. That database can be accessed only with special approval, and has so far been granted five times for “authorized purposes.”
Our government’s official position is that they don’t need warrants if they contract-spy on Americans?Big Brother + Big Tech = Big Problem.
— Mike Davis (@mrddmia) January 22, 2021

The memo came in response to a query sent by Chris Soghoian, Wyden’s privacy and cybersecurity aide who previously worked at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as the chief technologist. Wyden is interested in the subject because he has proposed additional safeguards on privacy of Americans, which the Oregon senator hopes will be included in the upcoming legislation reviving several provisions of the expired PATRIOT Act. The previous attempt to do so stalled in the divided Congress due in part to objections from President Donald Trump, who cited the abuse of FISA warrants to spy on his campaign to demand changes – which neither Democrats nor his own Republicans were willing to make. Democrats now have the slim majority in both the House and the Senate, as well as the presidency.
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Intelligence Analysts Use U.S. Smartphone Location Data Without Warrants, Memo Says

Postby smix » Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:41 pm

Intelligence Analysts Use U.S. Smartphone Location Data Without Warrants, Memo Says
New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/22/us/p ... -data.html
Category: Politics
Published: January 22, 2021

Description: The disclosure comes amid growing legislative scrutiny of how the government uses commercially available location records.
WASHINGTON — A military arm of the intelligence community buys commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps and searches it for Americans’ past movements without a warrant, according to an unclassified memo obtained by The New York Times. Defense Intelligence Agency analysts have searched for the movements of Americans within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years, agency officials disclosed in a memo they wrote for Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon. The disclosure sheds light on an emerging loophole in privacy law during the digital age: In a landmark 2018 ruling known as the Carpenter decision, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution requires the government to obtain a warrant to compel phone companies to turn over location data about their customers. But the government can instead buy similar data from a broker — and does not believe it needs a warrant to do so. “D.I.A. does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the agency memo said. Mr. Wyden has made clear that he intends to propose legislation to add safeguards for Americans’ privacy in connection with commercially available location data. In a Senate speech this week, he denounced circumstances “in which the government, instead of getting an order, just goes out and purchases the private records of Americans from these sleazy and unregulated commercial data brokers who are simply above the law.” He called the practice unacceptable and an intrusion on constitutional privacy rights. “The Fourth Amendment is not for sale,” he said. The government’s use of commercial databases of location information has come under increasing scrutiny. Many smartphone apps log their users’ locations, and the app makers can aggregate the data and sell it to brokers, who can then resell it — including to the government. It has been known that the government sometimes uses such data for law enforcement purposes on domestic soil. The Wall Street Journal reported last year about law enforcement agencies using such data. In particular, it found, two agencies in the Department of Homeland Security — Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection — have used the data in patrolling the border and investigating immigrants who were later arrested. In October, BuzzFeed reported on the existence of a legal memo from the Department of Homeland Security opining that it was lawful for law enforcement agencies to buy and use smartphone location data without a warrant. The department’s inspector general has opened an internal review. The military has also been known to sometimes use location data for intelligence purposes. In November, Vice’s Motherboard tech blog reported that Muslim Pro, a Muslim prayer and Quran app, had sent its users’ location data to a broker called X-Mode that in turn sold it to defense contractors and the U.S. military. Muslim Pro then said it would stop sharing data with X-Mode, and Apple and Google said they would ban apps that use the company’s tracking software from phones running their mobile operating systems. The new memo for Mr. Wyden, written in response to inquiries by a privacy and cybersecurity aide in his office, Chris Soghoian, adds to that emerging mosaic. The Defense Intelligence Agency appears to be mainly buying and using location data for investigations about foreigners abroad; one of its main missions is detecting threats to American forces stationed around the world. But, the memo said, the unidentified broker or brokers from which the government buys bulk smartphone location data does not separate American and foreign users. The Defense Intelligence Agency instead processes the data as it arrives to filter those records which appear to be on domestic soil and puts them in a separate database. Agency analysts may only query that separate database of Americans’ data if they receive special approval, the memo said, adding, “Permission to query the U.S. device location data has been granted five times in the past two and a half years for authorized purposes.” Mr. Wyden asked Avril D. Haines, President Biden’s new director of national intelligence, about what he called “abuses” of commercially available locational information at her confirmation hearing this week. Ms. Haines said she was not yet up to speed on the topic but stressed the importance of the government being open about the rules under which it is operating. “I would seek to try to publicize, essentially, a framework that helps people understand the circumstances under which we do that and the legal basis that we do that under,” she said. “I think that’s part of what’s critical to promoting transparency generally so that people have an understanding of the guidelines under which the intelligence community operates.” Mr. Wyden’s coming legislation on the topic appears likely to be swept into a larger surveillance debate that flared in Congress last year before it temporarily ran aground after erratic statements by President Donald J. Trump, as he stoked his grievances over the Russia investigation, threatening to veto the bill and not making clear what would satisfy him. With Mr. Biden now in office, lawmakers are set to resume that unresolved matter. The legislation has centered on reviving several provisions of the Patriot Act that expired and whether to put new safeguards on them, including banning the use of a part known as Section 215 to collect web browsing information without a warrant.
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