In a strange revelation, it has been discovered how the US government has been buying information from private vendors to keep track of movement of immigrants. The Trump administration has gone the road of buying data off a company that maps the movement of millions of mobile phones in America.
It has further been confirmed by the Wall Street Journal that came across relevant documents confirming this piece of information, that the Homeland Security has already made use of this information to catch hold of illegal immigrant movement on the Mexican border.
The information has also been used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Both agencies fall under the purview of DHS (U.S. Department of Homeland Security).
According to people familiar with the matter, all these agencies uses the information to look into the mobile phone activity that occurs in unusual places like in remote stretches of desert that straddle the Mexican border.
This is seemingly jarring, because this speaks for literally violation of private space of an individual and this kind of tactic for vigilance has never been used by the government before.
According to federal spending contracts, a division of DHS that creates experimental products had begun buying location data in 2017 itself. Its first data provider was Venntel Inc. of Herndon, Va., a small company that shares several executives and patents with Gravy Analytics, a major player in the mobile-advertising world. Venntel, in turn has purchased the information from private marketing companies that sell the location data of millions of cellphones to advertisers.
While all this is complete breach of trust and invasion of privacy to sell people’s mobile movement data, the government agencies have not shied away from accepting that they have indeed accessed this data. However, the use of the data was not disclosed. It has been confirmed by private companies providing such data that this data is pseudonymised. That means each cellphone is represented by an alphanumeric advertising identifier that is not linked to the name of the cellphone’s owner. So, while the advertising identifier is flagged up, the personal data of the individual is not seen. The private company that provides the data states that this data can be used to identify and track individuals based on their real-world behavior but will not identify the individual. To see more news in america.