Brokers' sales of U.S. military personnel data overseas stir national security fears

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Apr 20, 2022 | CYBERSCOOP

The multibillion-dollar data brokerage industry is virtually unregulated and poses a grave national security threat by advertising and selling information it has culled on military personnel, cybersecurity experts and a U.S. senator say.

Justin Sherman, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative and a cyber policy fellow at the Duke Tech Policy Lab, has been tracking — and sounding an alarm over — data brokers’ practices since last year. He said three large data brokerage companies — Axciom, LexisNexis and Nielsen — market data on current or former military personnel specifically.

Data for sale can include individual web searches, family members, home addresses and even real-time GPS locations. LexisNexis markets the fact that it can search an individual and identify whether they are active-duty military, Sherman said.

A U.S. senator is trying to stop the practice. Within the next few weeks, Bill Cassidy, R-La., plans to unveil legislation which will make it illegal for data brokers to sell military personnel data to adversarial nations, including China and Russia.

Cassidy highlighted his national security concerns about the data brokerage industry at a December Senate Finance Committee hearing.

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