The US Department of Defense appears to be a major customer of the Augury platform of Team Cymru, a data brokerage company that trades in data from internet traffic. With this data it is possible to follow the internet behavior of American citizens most likely also that of people in the rest of the world such as the Netherlands. This is according to revelations from an anonymous whistleblower.
American company doing dirty work
Despite the name that suggests a Welsh origin, Team Cymru is an American company based in Florida. The data broker claims that customers gain insight into almost all activities on the internet and can view more than 90% of the internet traffic. These activities have raised quite a few eyebrows at civil rights organizations such as the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union.
This is very spicy, because according to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, this eavesdropping on citizens by the government is not allowed at all without a court order. It looks like it that the Pentagon has now found a devious route to be able to eavesdrop on its own citizens, namely by letting a private company do the dirty work.
This development was of course foreseeable. So you can ask yourself why private companies have rights that the government does not have. After all, there is less control over a private company than over the government.
Cymru response: “misrepresentation”
In a reaction on their website, the company denies being a data broker. According to Cymru, they only map malicious email addresses, Remote Desktop login attempts and FTP attempts via malware sandboxing and honeypots. For this they used their own data and web servers, not the data of internet service providers. We can question this statement. This is because it conflicts with the information in the tender proposal.
Remarkably, Team Cymru very quickly renamed the product in question, Augury, into something new, Pure Signal™ Recon.
What this means for Dutch and Flemish people
For us as non-Americans, there is nothing to protect us from the Pentagon’s espionage activities anyway. Of course there are strict European rules, but are you visiting a website outside the European Union? Then you don’t have a leg to stand on.
Do you really want to make sure that no one can stick their nose in your internet behavior? Then it is best to use a VPN that is located outside the United States. Incidentally, they can also secretly provide your data to a government.