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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Two US Senators reported the CIA collecting citizen data in bulk

Data collection policies are rising concerns as countries now understand the risk of exposing sensitive citizen information. It is better late than never. The same goes for the underlying truth on various levels of data collection. Two US senators have gone public as the CIA illegally collected US citizen data. When the highest level of government agencies interrupts their citizen data, concerns arise among people.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is notorious for data collection, and the two US senators made public news as they said the CIA is collecting US citizen's data in bulk. What they are going to do with it is not made clear.

Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich both are democratic senators of Oregon and New Mexico, respectively. In 2021 April, they co-signed a letter to the director of national intelligence. The motive was to gather data collection policies and process them. Another concern was if the citizens whose data was being collected would have trouble in the future if that data falls into the wrong hands. The assumption is not negligible, as we've often seen data breaches.

Senator Ron Wyden, D-ore., and Senator Martin Henrich, D-N.M., are part of the Senate Intelligence Committee who care for transparency issues and the momentum gained attention. As the US regulatory scrutiny is active on data transfer policy, even more on what data to collect and how it affects people, the top levelled domains action raised concerns.

Two Senators sent a report to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that said they are requesting for "an expedited declassification review of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board's (PCLOB's)." The executive order number was 12333, declaring Central Intelligence Agency Deep Dive II.

Privacy and Civil Liberates Oversight Board's (PCLOB) reviewed two programs, code name "Deep Dive I" and "Deep Dive II." The Two Senators suspect data collected by the CIA used illegal methods, and the bulk information may go against current rules. Even though the report was published, some sections remained unclear as they voluntarily blacked out a few lines containing sensitive information.

Wyden and Heinrich said, "FISA gets all the attention because of the periodic congressional reauthorizes and the release of DOJ, ODNI and FISA Court documents." While it remains unclear why the CIA would follow Executive Order 12333 or bulk data collection of US citizens, many questions came to play.

If you're looking for the letter sent to the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) director William J. Burns, click this link.

The report talked about "the subject of extensive declassification about NSA's and FBI's FISA collection; there is no reason why CIA's activities cannot be equally transparent." The two Senator's want a satisfactory report from the CIA on their sources. While it may be out of the loop that the CIA will not disclose its data collection source, the legal framework must meet with FISA elements.

One of the requests was accepted as an early gesture as the two Senators requested to "declassify this letter." The CIA declassified it but blacked out information that may hamper privacy or reveal more information than they are prepared to give at the moment. Additionally, the "Deep Dive II" report and PCLOB's two other EO 12333 reports requested a reveal.

From the Official of the Federal Register (OFR), we found "information about the activities, capabilities and intentions of foreign powers, organisations and persons and their agents, is essential to the United States' national security."

A set of recommendations were also given out from PCLOB to the CIA on data transparency. According to the report, many other regulators who work closely with the government and handle sensitive information are prone to transparency, so should be the CIA. The document also stated, "auditing or reviewing US Person (USP) queries is likely to be challenging and time-consuming."


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