U.S. Spy Agencies Buy Vast Quantities of Americans’ Personal Data, U.S. Says

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WASHINGTON—The vast amount of Americans’ personal data available for sale has provided a rich stream of intelligence for the U.S. government but created significant threats to privacy, according to a newly released report by the U.S.’s top spy agency.

Commercially available information, or CAI, has grown in such scale that it has begun to replicate the results of intrusive surveillance techniques once used on a more targeted and limited basis, the report found.

“In a way that far fewer Americans seem to understand, and even fewer of them can avoid, CAI includes information on nearly everyone that is of a type and level of sensitivity that historically could have been obtained” through targeted collection methods such as wiretaps, cyber espionage or physical surveillance, the report concluded.