The NSA is buying web browsing data, without a warrant! You heard that right. Here’s a letter published by Ron Wyden, a U.S Senator that confirms the practice.
So, the NSA basically knows which websites you visit, how much time you spend there, which links you click on, what you search about, where you live, what you ate, who you sleep with and a lot more!
It’s not just limited to website data either. The apps you use and the activity there is bought and sold as well!
The exact scope of the exposed data isn’t known. But, we must assume it’s anything that a website/app can collect or knows about you and then sells for money.
The official reason for doing this is said to be “cybersecurity” and “prevention of threats” and all the normal tomfoolery.
The worst part of this is, all of this is done WITHOUT a warrant. And what makes things even deadlier is that it’s legal!
Here’s a really mind-bending, hypocritic, weird but legal loophole that promotes all this. So, at least in America, anyone needs a warrant to demand such data from phone companies or web browsers or anyone else. However, to buy the exact same data from a third-party broker which obtained the data in advance, no such warrant is needed! It’s because the data is publicly available for sale, for “anyone”, including these departments.
If you think this is the only time it has been done, you couldn’t be more wrong! In 2021, Wyden published another piece proving how American Intelligence Agency has been buying smartphone location data, without a warrant.
Of course not the entire government thinks the same way. Hence, previously, data brokers such as OutLogic and InMarketMedia have been banned as well.
It’s not just the NSA either. The Dept. of Homeland Security has done it, the IRS has done it and probably everyone else. Just because other departments haven’t been caught or publicly exposed doesn’t mean they’re clean!
However, these reports bring to light the massive fact that your data is recorded and up for sale!
This is EXACTLY why I’ve been pro-VPN for the last decade!
So, the VPN does a number of things. For starters, it makes you invisible. Everything you do on the web is tracked back to you using your IP address (primarily). The VPN takes your IP address, and hides it. It then replaces your connection with an IP of its own. After this, everything you do is tracked back to this VPN-IP. It’s all still tracked, what’s new is now none of your activities can be linked to you, ever!
Secondly, get more privacy-conscious browsers such as Brave or Tor (if you’d like to go all in). They prevent fingerprinting and tracking by websites which means even less data for those tracking you.
And of course, if you think it’s just the NSA or the American govt. you’re very wrong. In fact, such practices are more common in less developed nations due to corruption and disregard for law.