Over a year ago, a group of senior advisers informed Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, that the United States Government had been secretly amassing a “large amount” of “sensitive and intimate information” on its own citizens.
The newly declassified report from the director’s own panel of experts provides a detailed and sobering description of the extent and magnitude of the government’s endeavor to amass data that exposes intricate aspects of Americans’ lives.
In late 2021, Avril Haines initially assigned her advisers the responsibility of unraveling a complex network of clandestine partnerships between commercial data brokers and members of the US intelligence community.
The report, originating from the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence (ODNI), unequivocally confirms that government agencies have been purchasing “commercially available information.”
This data is sourced from various devices such as smartphones, connected cars, and IoT devices, as well as web-tracking technologies like cookies, among others.
The information obtained encompasses location data, web browsing habits, and social media activity.
Referred to as Commercially Available Information (CAI), it has the potential to unveil intricate details regarding the movements and associations of individuals and groups, exposing their political affiliations, religious beliefs, travel patterns, and even speech activities.
Remarkably, the government is essentially acknowledging and accepting the existence of this practice.
The declassified report further highlights that although this data is frequently anonymized, it is still susceptible to deanonymization and the identification of individuals using other forms of Commercially Available Information (CAI).
Additionally, the report acknowledges the potential for abuse of the acquired information. An excerpt from the report explicitly states, “In the wrong hands, sensitive insights gained through CAI could facilitate blackmail, stalking, harassment, and public shaming.”
This recognition underscores the concerning risks associated with the misuse of such data.