The op-ed “Secret Surveillance: The CIA, your smart TV and you” makes some extremely inaccurate allegations that the students and faculty of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies would like to address.
The article claims that CIA is hacking the smartphones, computers, and televisions of U.S. citizens. However, the CIA is legally prohibited from collecting intelligence on U.S. citizens.
The National Security Act, which established the CIA, in Section 102, Article D, Part 3 states, “the agency shall have no police, subpoena, law-enforcement powers, or internal-security functions.” To further protect the rights of U.S. citizens, the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) of 1978 reiterated in Title I, Section 101 that American citizens have the right to privacy and the CIA cannot intentionally gather intelligence any American citizen whether or not they are on US soil.
Therefore, the article’s allegation that “there has been no evidence that National Security Agency or CIA mass surveillance has thwarted any large- or medium-scale terrorist plots” is absolutely true.
Neither agency has any legal authority to conduct mass surveillance on U.S. citizens. No U.S. institution has any right to gather information on U.S. citizens without probable cause and a warrant. A quick check of U.S. legal history would have helped the author clearly understand this.
Finally, if the author is worried about any sort of privacy or security violation, he should look more into organizations such as Google, Android, or Samsung, where people willingly choose to store their information.
Government agencies cannot get information from these companies without obtaining a warrant, which requires probable cause and due process, but the small print in your user agreements allows these organizations to collect any information on you – and to use the information in any way that you have agreed, including selling it to outside organizations.
Faculty and students from the Center for Intelligence Studies contributed to this letter.