Sen. Ron Wyden Pushes Intelligence Community to Protect Data From Online Advertising Data Collection

July 21, 2021

Senator and veteran privacy advocate Ron Wyden recently sent a letter to the Acting Intelligence Community Chief Information Officer urging him to protect intelligence community computers and personnel from threats posed by the sale and misuse of online advertising data. The letter emphasized that advertising companies operate in an unregulated market where they can “collect vast amounts of sensitive information about users, their movements, web browsing, and other online activities” and then offer that information “for sale to anyone with a credit card.” Senator Wyden previously led an investigation that uncovered the ways advertising companies were selling so-called “bidstream” data to firms in China, Russia, and other high-risk foreign countries. The sale of bidstream data poses both privacy and national security risks because that data includes precise location information of Americans as well as their device identifiers and browsing histories. In the letter, Sen. Wyden sought information on how, if at all, the intelligence community protects data from online advertisers, including through the use of ad blocking technologies. EPIC has repeatedly raised concerns over the collection of vast amounts of data online and has joined a growing coalition of groups in their call to Ban Surveillance Advertising.

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