DHS accused of purchasing location data of mobile users in the United States

According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which the recently impeached 45th US President (Donald Trump) dislikes to the core of his heart; it’s claimed that the federal law enforcement agencies are buying user location data to support the upcoming framework related to Immigration and Border Enforcement efforts.


Reports are in that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using the data to track down workers and migrants who have entered the country of the United States on an illegal note.


And the two agencies related to DHS in the discussion are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which are alleged to be using the data in varied ways.


A source from WSJ stated that the purchase of user location data has started in 2017 as the news resource claims that it has evidence related to a purchase deal of a large set of information from a Virginia based Tech Company named Venntel Inc- probably linked to mobile ad company Gravy Analytics.


From then on DHS linked agencies were seen buying $190,000 worth data from Venntel in 2018 and $1 million worth of information the following year. Both ICE and CBP have acknowledged the info buy and use. But say that they are not authorized to reveal the objective of the data buying deal for reasons.


Note 1- In 2018, a Supreme Court ruling specified in its hearing that location data of mobile phone users is critical as it reveals so much data related to the using individual. Therefore, from then on the law has barred agencies from seeking location data directly from telecom companies without prior legal permission.


Note 2– So, if the WSJ report is to be believed, here the government is the purchaser of the information- similar to that of private companies akin to Facebook and Google do.


Note 3- Paul Rosenzweig of DHS reacted to the news of WSJ and stated that the government was just buying a widget which is going to benefit the citizens of North America someday—-perhaps to make “America Greatest”


Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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