The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been buying location data of millions of cellphone users from third party players. According to documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on July 18, the DHS is buying this data without any warrants to track movements of civilians.
“The released records shine a light on the millions of taxpayer dollars DHS used to buy access to cell phone location information being aggregated and sold by two shadowy data brokers, Venntel and Babel Street,” the report read.
The documents show that this vast amount of location data of people are being purchased by various DHS agencies, including the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without any judicial oversight, to track people’s movements and use it for “unreasonable government searches and seizures.” Further The data, purchased by the DHS, allowed law enforcement to identify devices & locations at “places of interest,” and to obtain information about frequent visitors, discover patterns of life and collect other important details, as well as track specific individuals or everyone in a particular area.
The records, running into thousands of pages – 6,168 to be precise — contain more than 336,000 location points across North America that had been obtained from people’s smartphones.
The documents obtained by ACLU over the past year reveals that the bulk of the data came from two companies – Venntel, a location intelligence company headquartered in Washington, DC, and Babel Street, a Virgina-based AI company.
The documents also reveal in detail that not only were the federal agencies aware of what they were doing but also made efforts to rationalize those actions, or even hide them. For instance, the records claimed that the data was “opt-in” and “voluntarily shared ” by users, and that it is collected with consent of the app user and “permission of the individual.”
“By searching through this massive trove of location information at their whim, government investigators can identify and track specific individuals or everyone in a particular area, learning details of our private activities and associations,” noted the ACLU.
The FBI made queries into almost 3.4 million Americans between December 2020 and November 2021, the US intelligence community admitted in an official report on Friday. The FBI said it was looking for foreign hackers, but civil libertarian groups called it an “enormous” invasion of privacy.
The FBI alone made “fewer than 3,394,053” queries of US citizens in that time period, related to information collected under the controversial authority to spy on foreigners. The findings were made public in the Annual Intelligence Community Transparency Report.
The electronic data was collected legally under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the report claims. According to the ODNI, the number is due to “a number of large batch queries related to attempts to compromise U.S. critical infrastructure by foreign cyber actors” in the first half of 2021, which “included approximately 1.9 million query terms related to potential victims – including US persons.”
This accounts for the “vast majority of the increase in US person queries conducted by FBI over the prior year,” There were fewer than 1.3 million such queries in the December 2019 to November 2020 period, according to the same findings.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has reacted, calling the FBI’s behavior an invasion of privacy “on an enormous scale.”“Today’s report sheds light on the extent of these unconstitutional ‘backdoor searches,’ and underscores the urgency of the problem,” ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Ashley Gorski said in a statement. “It’s past time for Congress to step in to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.”
Section 702 of the FISA act allows the DNI and the US attorney general to target non-US persons located outside of the US in order to acquire foreign intelligence.
The licenses,give the FBI – specifically its Strategic Technology Unit of Directorate of Intelligence – the right to use a data analytics tool called Babel X, which harvests user data, including location, from the internet.
When the FBI issued a procurement call for a tool, whose purpose, boiled down, is to track a massive number of social media posts, the agency said that it must provide capability of searching multiple social media sites, in multiple languages.
As per FBI’s procurement documents, the tool had to be able to scrape data from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Deep/Dark Web, VK, and Telegram, while being able to do the same with Snapchat, TikTok. Reddit, 8Kun, Gab, Parler, ask.fm, Weibo, and Discord would be considered a plus.
In addition, the FBI said it would prefer more “fringe” as well as encrypted messaging platforms to be included in the winning bid. Another requirement was for the tool to carry out surveillance of these sites continuously, while the data collected would be held by the vendor and then pushed to the FBI.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spied on millions of Americans using cell phone location data in order to track movements and monitor whether people were complying with lockdown curfews during the pandemic.
According to CDC documents from 2021 obtained by Motherboard via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the program tracked patterns of people visiting K-12 schools – and in one case, monitored “the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation.” The documents reveal that while the CDC used the pandemic to justify purchasing the data more quickly, it actually intended to use it for general agency purposes.
The documents reveal the expansive plan the CDC had last year to use location data from a highly controversial data broker. SafeGraph, the company the CDC paid $420,000 for access to one year of data.
The data which was purchased comes from cell phones – meaning SafeGraph can track where a person lives, works, and where they’ve been, and then sell that data to various entities.
The data which the CDC bought was aggregated – which is designed to follow broad trends in how people are moving around, however researchers have raised concerns over how location data can be deanonymized to track specific individuals.
“The CDC seems to have purposefully created an open-ended list of use cases, which included monitoring curfews, neighbor to neighbor visits, visits to churches, schools and pharmacies, and also a variety of analysis with this data specifically focused on ‘violence,'” said Zach Edwards, a cybersecurity researcher who closely follows the data marketplace.
As far as unmasking individuals, Edwards noted how SafeGraph’s data can be used to pinpoint certain people.
“In my opinion the SafeGraph data is way beyond any safe thresholds [around anonymity],” he said, pointing to one result in SafeGraph’s user interface that showed individual movements to a specific doctor’s office – indicating how finely tuned the ‘aggregated’ data actually is.
That said, the CDC wanted the data for more than just tracking Covid-19 policy response. While the procurement documents say the data is for “an URGENT COVID-19 PR [procurement request],” one of the included use cases reads “Research points of interest for physical activity and chronic disease prevention such as visits to parks, gyms, or weight management businesses.”
The data purchased by the CDC was SafeGraph’s “U.S. Core Place Data,” “Weekly Patterns Data,” and “Neighborhood Patterns Data,” the latter of which includes information such as ‘home dwelling time’ which is aggregated by state and census block, per Motherboard.
Both SafeGraph and the CDC have previously touched on their partnership, but not in the detail that is revealed in the documents. The CDC published a study in September 2020 which looked at whether people around the country were following stay-at-home orders, which appeared to use SafeGraph data.
In the U.S. and throughout the world, there has been a recent push to implement a variety of “vaccine passport” regimes, many of which rely on digital technologies such as mobile applications to carry a record of — so far, at least — one’s Covid-19 vaccination records.
These “tools” are presented by public officials and significant sections of the media in recent weeks and months as an inevitability of sorts, a technological progression as natural as breathing.They are also presented as a “new” response to an unprecedented crisis.
These technological applications are touted as a means of keeping businesses open and ensuring “peace of mind” for members of the public who remain wary about entering public spaces.But just how new is this “new” technology? And will the use of technology be limited to COVID vaccinations, or for purposes of “health?”
International ‘alliances’ backing the melding of ‘Big Tech’ and ‘Big Health’
t was the beginning of the preceding decade, January 2010, when Bill Gates, via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, proclaimed “we must make this the decade of vaccines,” adding that “innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before.”
In launching this so-called “Decade of Vaccines,” the Gates Foundation pledged $10 billion in funding. But Gates wasn’t the only actor behind this initiative.
These same actors — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the WEF — organized the now-notorious Event 201 pandemic simulation exercise, in October 2019, just before COVID entered our lives.
“The Bill Gates’ Gavi Vaccine Alliance in 2018 published a paper on its INFUSE program that ought to be required reading for every parent of young children. Published more than a year before anyone had heard of Covid-19, the document explains why Fauci, Gates and the corrupt U.S. government are so intent on getting these “vaccines” into the bodies of younger and younger people.
The Gavi alliance, flush with $1.16 billion in taxpayer dollars is partnering with the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the Gates Foundation and other globalist organizations to advocate for creating a registered, verifiable, digital ID for every child on the planet. This ID will be tied to each child’s vaccination status.
“Don’t be confused by the bit about ‘building a healthier and more prosperous future.’ That’s just window dressing. This is all about data collection and has nothing to do with health.
“The real purpose behind the historic, unprecedented push to vaccinate the very young, even against diseases like COVID that do not pose a threat to them, is to fold the current generation of children into the blossoming global digital identity system.”
Taking ‘health passports’ a step (or more) further: digital wallet regimes take shape
The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 30 passed H.R. 550, the Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021.
If passed by Congress, this law would provide $400 million in funding to expand vaccine-tracking systems at the state and local level, enabling state health officials to monitor the vaccination status of American citizens and to provide this information to the federal government.
Meanwhile, several states, including New York (via its “Excelsior Pass”) and Connecticut introduced their own digital COVID vaccination certificate. New York went so far as to make a “blueprint” of its vaccine pass platform available, “as a guide to assist other states, territories, and entities in the expansion of compatible COVID-19 vaccine credential systems to advance economic development efforts nationwide.”
The rollout of digital platforms gives rise to questions about the safety of individuals’ data on these digital platforms, despite government reassurances to the contrary regarding privacy.
Moreover, it remains unclear how long “COVID passports,” whether in digital or paper form, will remain enforced, or if governments plan to make such a regime permanent.