Declassified :CIA collecting data on American citizens, No accountability As usual.

The Central Intelligence Agency has been collecting American’s private data without any oversight or even the minimal legal safeguards that apply to the NSA and FBI, an unconstitutional affront to our civil liberties.

According to a declassified report released by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), the CIA’s surveillance program is reminiscent of the mass surveillance programs conducted by the NSA, though the details released thus far paint a disturbing picture of potential wide-scale violations of people’s privacy.

The CIA program has apparently been conducted outside the statutory reforms and oversight of the intelligence community instituted after revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013. The newly declassified CIA data collection program is carried out in conjunction with Executive Order 12333 and is therefore subject to even less oversight than the woefully under-supervised NSA surveillance programs subject to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The agency said the programs involved “counterterrorism intelligence-related activities” that operated under Executive Order 12333. It also announced that portions of reports on the programs were being declassified.

As per senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico,members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The agency has conducted its own “bulk program” and “has done so outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.”

The report which was heavily redacted, did not indicate how long, exactly, the surveillance had unfolded, how widespread it had been, or what sort of information was collected and from whom. 

From that letter and a PCLOB “Staff Recommendations” document, we know that the CIA collects a vast amount of data, often on U.S. persons, without any clear guidelines about data retention and without substantial oversight of analysts querying information about U.S. citizens. The program seems to exist outside the jurisdiction of either courts or Congress–given that even the Senate Intelligence Committee was left in the dark about this program.

In their letter, Wyden and Heinrich inquire as to the nature of the CIA’s relationship to its “sources,” perhaps a reference to whether the CIA might be getting some of its data from the same place as the NSA—through secretive agreements with private companies. In 2013, it was reported that the CIA paid $10 million a year in order to gain access to AT&T’s call data. 

While the CIA is largely prohibited by law from “engaging in domestic spying,” which makes the revelations troubling. As the Wall Street Journal reports, at times intelligence agencies have found ways to circumvent these prohibitions, noting that “some U.S. intelligence programs collect broad streams of internet or telephone data in a way that can scoop up information on Americans.

The nature of the surveillance isn’t fully clear. Yet the language in the redacted letter suggests the program involves nontraditional surveillance, noting data collection is done in “bulk” and uses “backdoor searches of Americans. This implies the spy agency may be “vacuuming up” vast amounts of information “to spy on Americans” and storing it indefinitely.

Via MSN & Zerohedge

I.C.E. officials created a network that can spy on a majority of Americans.

Although it’s supposed to be restricted by surveillance rules at local, state and federal levels, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has built up a mass surveillance system that includes details on almost all US residents, according to a report from a major think tank. 

 ICE “now operates as a domestic surveillance agency” and it is able to bypass regulations in part by purchasing databases from private companies. 

“Since its founding in 2003, ICE has not only been building its own capacity to use surveillance to carry out deportations but has also played a key role in the federal government’s larger push to amass as much information as possible about all of our lives,” the report’s authors state. 

“By reaching into the digital records of state and local governments and buying databases with billions of data points from private companies, ICE has created a surveillance infrastructure that enables it to pull detailed dossiers on nearly anyone, seemingly at any time.”

The researchers spent two years looking into ICE to put together the extensive report, which is called “American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century.” They obtained information by filing hundreds of freedom of information requests and scouring more than 100,000 contracts and procurement records.

Over the years, privacy law experts and civil rights activists and attorneys have accused ICE of overreach in its surveillance tactics directed at immigrants and Americans alike, but the Georgetown report paints a picture of an agency that has gone well beyond its immigration enforcement mandate, instead evolving into something of a broader domestic surveillance agency.

The agency is said to be using data from the Department of Motor Vehicles and utility companies, along with the likes of call records, child welfare records, phone location data, healthcare records and social media posts. ICE is now said to hold driver’s license data for 74 percent of adults and can track the movement of cars in cities that are home to 70 percent of the adult population in the US.

ICE spent an estimated $2.8 billion between 2008 and 2021 on surveillance, data collection and data-sharing initiatives, according to the Georgetown report. The scale of ICE surveillance came as a shock to the report’s authors.

The authors wrote that ICE is able to carry out these actions in secret and without warrants. Along with the data it acquired from other government departments, utilities, private companies and third-party data brokers, “the power of algorithmic tools for sorting, matching, searching and analysis has dramatically expanded the scope and regularity of ICE surveillance,” .  ICE has been able to sidestep congressional oversight and bypass attempts at state level to curtain its surveillance capabilities

“ICE has been able to build massive surveillance capabilities without needing authorization and without congressional oversight,” said Allison McDonald, a research fellow and co-author of the report. “That they have been able to build such an expansive infrastructure in relative secrecy is setting an alarming example for how federal agencies can evade scrutiny.”

Sources:

Yahoo News

Engadget.com