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Intelligence After Next: Surveillance Technologies Are Imbedded into the Fabric of Modern Life—The Intelligence Community Must Respond

By Kirsten Hazelrig

Today’s advertising technology, generating vast amounts of data that includes our identity, locations, and connections, has immense intelligence potential but also poses a threat from adversaries. The Intelligence Community can help develop countermeasures.

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As we interact with our phones, websites, and the digital ecosystem, ubiquitous surveillance generates vast amounts of commercial data that creates enduring records of our identity, locations, and connections. This commercial surveillance data is collected, repackaged, and sold in a vast and largely unregulated commercial market and is readily available for purchase by companies around the world and by our adversaries. Despite its omnipresent nature, many national policymakers still do not fully appreciate the overarching national security considerations of commercial surveillance technology that continuously collects personal information, ostensibly to better tune advertising.

The intelligence potential of this advertising technology or “AdTech” data is immense, and America's adversaries are leveraging commercial AdTech data to enhance their asymmetric capabilities. The IC is uniquely positioned to both have exquisite insights into adversarial capabilities and threats, as well as a detailed understanding of how the advanced analysis of how these data sets can yield actionable insights.

The IC should take action to understand and enumerate where in the ecosystem there is more risk and where effective countermeasures could strengthen defense and enhance security.