Sen. Ron Wyden has asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to publicly release information about what the Oregon Democrat referred to as the “warrantless surveillance of Americans” by the U.S. military.
Mr. Wyden, a longtime member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, made the request in a letter he sent Thursday regarding the Department of Defense (DoD) and its dealings with data brokers.
After press reports last year revealed the U.S. was buying location data harvested from apps installed on Americans’ cellphones, Mr. Wyden said he began investigating the “shady” brokers selling it.
Mr. Wyden said that his investigation confirmed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component of the Pentagon, was among government agencies that warrantlessly purchased the location data of Americans.
In the letter, Mr. Wyden said that he wrote the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security in February with several questions regarding the military’s use of Americans’ location data.
Mr. Wyden said he received answers from the military in the months that followed, but that several of its responses were either classified or otherwise designated as not meant for dissemination.
Among the answers Mr. Wyden cannot share are the military’s responses to the senator’s questions about the Pentagon buying and using Americans’ location and internet data.
In his most recent letter, Mr. Wyden said “the American people have a right to know the answers to these questions” and requested Mr. Austin clear them to be released to the public by June 15.
“Information should only be classified if its unauthorized disclosure would cause damage to national security,” wrote Mr. Wyden. “The information provided by DoD in response to my questions does not meet that bar.”
A message requesting comment from the defense department was not immediately returned Friday. Motherboard first reported about the senator’s letter to the defense secretary the day before.