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The NSA Wants Congress To Allow Mass Purchase of Warrantless Data

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In a contentious move, the National Security Agency (NSA) is advocating for lawmakers to retain the option of collecting sensitive data from commercial brokers, rather than obtaining warrants specifically for this purpose.

This is in response to an amendment set forth by US representatives Warren Davidson and Sara Jacobs to prevent military agencies from acquiring data that would normally warrant a court order.

Related: FBI admits to buying geolocation data

This amendment aims to considerably obstruct the actions of intelligence communities, including the NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the fledgling National Space Intelligence Center.

As reported by WIRED, this provision was endorsed by the House over a week back during the fiscal deliberations over the National Defense Authorization Act, a prerequisite legislation determining the Pentagon’s lavish $886 billion spending for the forthcoming year. However, the exact policies due for inclusion in the Senate’s correlating bill remain in negotiation.

Simultaneously, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted resolutely to progress legislation extending these data purchasing restrictions to all government entities: federal, state, and local. This has been referred to as the “Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act,” with Senator Ron Wyden also intending to reintroduce it, a statement from his office confirmed.

The usage of data acquired from commercial sources by the NSA for location and internet usage data remains nebulous, yet the agency admits to utilizing this information for cyber defense. The NSA declined to respond when approached for comment.

A report recently made public by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence exposed that intelligence agencies circumvented judicial scrutiny by acquiring ample “sensitive and intimate information” about American citizens through undesignated third parties. The lack of clear culpability regarding this sensitive information has led to a heightened risk of inappropriate exploitation, including potential blackmail.

Andy Biggs, a leading voice in a subcommittee on federal government surveillance, underscores that the federal government has wantonly accessed and utilized the private data of citizens for years. Notably, agencies such as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency, have exploited legal ambiguities to amass vast volumes of data, sidestepping traditional oversight procedures.

The battle for transparency and the safeguarding of privacy continues to rage, with civil rights groups calling for rigorous amendments to current laws, specifically citing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which they perceive as excessively broad and lacking in substantial legislative oversight.

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