US law enforcement agencies are said to have accessed the locations of 250 million smartphones to access “hundreds of billions of records”, using a tool provided by a private company to purchase user information collected by data brokers from popular apps. The company’s device-tracking tool relies on advertising IDs from users’ phones allowing officials to track their movements without a command, over time while focusing and analyzing patterns, according to the company’s website. a report.
According to a detail report by the Associated Press based on documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a tool called Revealing the fog, has been sold in approximately 40 contracts to more than 20 US law enforcement agencies. The tool was created by Virginia-based Fog Data Science and is widely used by law enforcement agencies in the US.
Unlike tracking a user’s legitimate location which requires a lengthy process to obtain a warrant, the use of Fog Reveal allows law enforcement agencies to track smartphones using sourced data. from popular apps like Starbucks or Waze, According to the report table. User location data allows agencies to track people’s movements over time, while creating “lifestyles”, based on location information.
The report states that the use of the tool is highly confidential – in some cases it is not mentioned in US court records, which could prevent attorneys from defending their clients in technology cases used.
Fog Reveal relies on data sourced from popular apps, such as Waze and Starbucks – assigning users an advertising identifier. Users’ location details, tied to their IDs, are all used to target them with ads, while it goes to companies like Fog Data Science, which, according to the report, say the companies company did not know that such data was used for location tracking.
While the Advertising ID does not contain a user’s name, phone number or personally identifiable details, the report states that location details can be used over time to anonymize users and analyze movement. their.
As the report indicates, US courts are still weighing the use of location information and such the latest ruling from the US Supreme Court that law enforcement agencies will request subpoenas in in most cases, to see a record of the user’s movement and location.