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How the Federal Government Buys Our Cell Phone Location Data


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"Over the past few years, data brokers and federal military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies have formed a vast, secretive partnership to surveil the movements of millions of people. Many of the mobile apps on our cell phones track our movements with great precision and frequency. Data brokers harvest our location data from the app developers, and then sell it to these agencies. Once in government hands, the data is used by the military to spy on people overseas, by ICE to monitor people in and around the U.S., and by criminal investigators like the FBI and Secret Service. This post will draw on recent research and reporting to explain how this surveillance partnership works, why is it alarming, and what can we do about it."


Is it legal for the federal government to buy our location data?

"In a word, “no.” The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and it requires particularity in warrants."

How to Disable Ad ID Tracking on iOS and Android, and Why You Should Do It Now

"This post explains the history of device ad identifiers and how they have enabled persistent tracking, identification, and other privacy invasions."


"Congress must ban federal government purchase of sensitive location information. The issue is straightforward: government agencies should not be able to buy any personal data that normally requires a warrant. "

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