U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars in contracts with a Virginia company, Babel Street, after it rolled out a tool that uses data from mobile apps to track the movement of people's cell phones, sources told Protocol.
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Cops can find the entire location history minute by minute of your cell phone going back months using the Securus system. It uses tower ping triangulation not gps, and works even on flip phones.
Originally designed to monitor the movement and compliance of parolees, it's being widely abused by thousands of police departments across the country. Spend two seconds googling and you'll find numerous articles including a long NYT piece on it.
Carrying a phone is optional, even if you decided to have a phone it’s easy enough to register them to a fake name... unless you are fancy and have a contract by choice also. Half this stuff “they” use to watch and monitor us, we allow because we can’t help ourselves.
Buying/owning a consumer product, especially one so central to modern life, should not mean sacrificing your constitutional rights. For many people, I imagine this law crosses that line. Don’t blame the citizen for the overstepping of their government.
S.S: Babel Street's sale of location data to the government raises potential liability issues for app developers under the Stored Communications Act. The 1986 law prohibits providers of computing services or electronic communication to the public from knowingly divulging customer information to any government entity.
On mobile so haven’t checked and double checked, but a few months ago it was publicized on hacker news (reputable newspaper aggregator) now your location was being sold by your operator to third parties who were using that day, e.g. your bank checking were you in the same location as your transaction, but also potentially nefarious reasons since the data was for sale to anyone.
There is no "reasonable expectation of privacy". When you install the app , and agree to the terms, you are agreeing that they can sell your location data.
App developers have to make money somehow. "Free" apps show you ads or they sell your data....
A former government official familiar with Locate X provided an example of how it could be used, referring to the aftermath of a car bombing or kidnapping. Investigators could draw what is known as a geo-fence around the site, identify mobile devices that were in the vicinity in the days before the attack, and see where else those devices had traveled in the days, weeks or months leading up to the attack, or where they traveled afterward.
"If you see a device that a month ago was in Saudi Arabia, then you know maybe Saudis were involved," this person said. "It's a lead generator. You get a data point, and from there you use your other resources to figure out if it's valid."
So: End run around getting a warrant / 4th Amendment privacy rulings.
Sleazy as all shit.
A spokesperson for Babel Street, Lacy Talton, declined to answer specific questions about the company's government sales or its Locate X technology, but said the firm handles data carefully to comply with both the law and internet terms of service. There is no indication Babel Street is doing anything illegal.
Advocating in favor of pederasts and domestic abuse is also legal, that doesn’t mean you should be doing it.
In summary: 1984 is real, Big Brother has privatized unreasonable searches via corporate sleaze-baggery.
There was Joe Rogan Podcast a while ago when he interviewed Snowden. During the interview Snowden clearly states that progressively laws protecting citizens from unlawful acts that violates privacy have been altered to protect government officials from their unlawful acts. These amendments in particular the Patriot Act does these things. I’m not surprised one bit as the government emboldens their behaviour towards violating/undermining people’s privacy.
Terroristic threats is another one. I was legitimately surprised to hear the leway that counts and pretty much gives them the go ahead to do whatever they want. It’s a vague one to use basically if you have nothing better in my opinion because it’s applicable beyond like legit, terroristic threats.
It’s (kind of) useful. Police were looking for me once and used my phone to track me. Cell carriers actually often comply with law enforcement requests too, another way to circumvent needing a warrant. But that’s probably not as fast and convenient for them
U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars worth of contracts with a Virginia company after it rolled out a powerful tool that uses data from popular mobile apps to track the movement of people's cell phones, according to federal contracting records and six people familiar with the software.
Federal records show that U.S. Customs and Border Protection purchased Locate X, and the Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also use the location-tracking technology, according to a former Babel Street employee.
CBP signed a first contract worth $981,000 for "Babel software" in September 2017. The Targeting and Analysis Systems Directorate, the CBP branch that purchased the software, apparently liked what it received. A year later, the agency signed a fresh contract worth $2.2 million for "Babel software licenses." In March 2019, CBP filed an amended contract, worth an extra $130,000, to "upgrade the current Babel Street Locate X licensing from basic to premium licenses as well as add an additional 10 licenses."
In September 2018, ICE officials signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with Babel Street. The deal included Locate X, according to a former Babel Street employee. Last August, ICE signed a fresh five-year deal worth up to $6.5 million with Babel Street for "data subscription services," records show.
The data used by Babel Street, said the former employees of Babel Street and Gravy Analytics, comes largely from third-party data aggregators who broker deals with mobile app developers, offering revenue in return and sometimes detailed analysis about how users are engaging with the app.
This isn't a new problem. I think it's right that we place some level of restriction on the data law enforcement are allowed to collect, but if we voluntarily give that data to a private company we're allowing those restrictions to be bypassed as the private company will usually have it in their terms that they can sell the data to whoever they want. It's a bit like how the US and the UK circumvented laws against snooping on their own people in the past. NSA would monitor British comms and give it to GCHQ, and GCHQ would do the same for NSA. Completely against the spirit of the law but not technically a violation. Possibly the best answer to close this loophole would be to make it ilegal for law enforcement to possess any data they would not legally be allowed to gather themselves.
I like this suggestion. Of course, then we would simply have agents in their capacity as private citizens find the data any way they want so that they could, in their official capacity, “discover” it using legal means.