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America's DHS Is Expected to Stop Buying Access to Your Phone Movements

Published by Slashdot on Sat, 30 Mar 2024

America's Department of Homeland Security "is expected to stop buying access to data showing the movement of phones," reports the U.S. news site NOTUS. They call the purchasers "a controversial practice that has allowed it to warrantlessly track hundreds of millions of people for years."Since 2018, agencies within the departmentincluding Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Secret Servicehave been buying access to commercially available data that revealed the movement patterns of devices, many inside the United States. Commercially available phone data can be bought and searched without judicial oversight. Three people familiar with the matter said the Department of Homeland Security isn't expected to buy access to more of this data, nor will the agency make any additional funding available to buy access to this data. The agency "paused" this practice after a 2023 DHS watchdog report [which had recommended they draw up better privacy controls and policies]. However, the department instead appears to be winding down the use of the data... "The information that is available commercially would kind of knock your socks off," said former top CIA official Michael Morell on a podcast last year. "If we collected it using traditional intelligence methods, it would be top-secret sensitive. And you wouldn't put it in a database, you'd keep it in a safe...." DHS' internal watchdog opened an investigation after a bipartisan outcry from lawmakers and civil society groups about warrantless tracking... "Meanwhile, U.S. spy agencies are fighting to preserve the same capability as part of the renewal of surveillance authorities," the article adds. "A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden in the Senate and Republican Rep. Warren Davidson in the House, is pushing to ban U.S. government agencies from buying data on Americans."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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