NSA Admits Purchasing Americans’ Internet Data Without A Warrant

Newly released documents reveal that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been purchasing Americans’ browsing data.

The purchased data includes internet browsing records obtained from data brokers, allowing the NSA to identify websites and apps used by Americans without the need for a court order. It remains unclear if the NSA also purchases access to location databases, as other federal government agencies have done.

Government agencies usually need a court-approved warrant to access private data on Americans from phones or tech companies. However, U.S. agencies have circumvented this requirement by asserting that if the information, such as precise location records or netflow data, is openly available for purchase, a warrant is not necessary. This legal argument has yet to be tested in U.S. courts.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden expressed concern over this revelation, emphasizing that the government should not support an industry involved in unethical and illegal privacy violations.
The NSA claims to have compliance measures in place to minimize the collection of U.S. person information, but concerns about privacy risks persist. This disclosure is part of a broader pattern of intelligence and law enforcement agencies acquiring sensitive data from companies, circumventing the usual requirement for court orders.