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CIA plans to "collect everything and hang onto it forever"

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A head CIA operative has some disturbing news for anyone who uses the Internet.

His group wants to "collect everything and hang onto it forever," he said.

This is particularly concerning for anyone worried about the Cyber Intelligence Security Protection Act (CISPA). If that bill becomes law, then companies under cyber attack could choose to bypass privacy laws and share information—including Americans' personal data—with federal agencies. And yes, the CIA falls into that category.

Gus Hunt, the CIA's Chief Technology Officer, made the remarks at GigaOM's Structure: Data conference Wednesday. They were part of an overall theme he stressed—that the CIA gathers enormous amounts of data, intending to analyze it to find ways the benefit the country as a whole. He spoke colloquially—when he said "forever," he clarified he meant the word, "in quotes." But he maintained that his agency was genuinely working to gather tremendous swaths of data.

"It is nearly within our grasp to compute on all human generated information," he added.

As noted by the Huffington Post, Hunt's comments came two days after reports that the CIA recently struck a 10-year, $600 million deal with Amazon for cloud storage—presumably to help store the data he mentioned.

CISPA, which currently awaits a House vote, is shaping up as a sizeable battle between activists who say its lack of privacy protections is unacceptable and groups that are eager to combat attacks on U.S. networks.

"We care because we have to understand what's going to be on the world, so we can inform our policy makers, so we can be ahead of these trends," Hunt said, explaining that national security is behind the CIA's push for so much data. "We care because we do want to stop the next underwear bomber before he gets on the airplane and tries to light his pants on fire."

Photo via Wikimedia Commons