The Secret Service reportedly paid for a product called Locate X, which allows the agency to access location data from apps on people’s phones. The agency was thus able to bypass measures like obtaining a warrant or court order to get that kind of information, according to a Monday report by Motherboard.
A March report in Protocol stated several government agencies had signed deals with Locate X creator Babel Street after it launched the product. Locate X anonymously tracks device locations using data gathered by apps on those phones, sources told the publication. US Customs and Border Protection reportedly purchased Locate X, and Motherboard says it’s obtained a document that supports a Babel Street employee’s claim that the Secret Service also used the technology.
The Secret Service and Babel Street didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Secret Service’s contract mentioning Locate X ran from Sept. 28, 2017, to Sept. 27, 2018, according to Motherboard.
Several apps gather location data, often to help them run more smoothly, but many sell the information they collect to data brokers or to other companies that then use the information in their own products, Motherboard notes. The government is also sometimes involved in those sales. The Trump administration, for instance, has purchased phone location data from a company called Venntel and uses it for immigration and border enforcement, according to a February report by The Wall Street Journal. The Internal Revenue Service also reportedly purchased a database from Venntel that records millions of American cellphone locations.
While law enforcement agencies usually need a warrant or court order to get location data from a company, they can bypass that step by purchasing the data instead, Motherboard notes.
- Pandemic thriller Utopia on Amazon might be the perfect viewing
- 2021 Jaguar F-Pace refreshed with new styling, luxury and tech
- 2020 Halloween full moon: This year’s spooky spectacle brings a rare twist
- The best minimalist wallet for 2020
- NASA chief calls for prioritizing Venus after surprise find hints at alien life
- YouTube is adding a new Shorts feature to rival TikTok and Instagram Reels
- Paul Rudd, world’s youngest 51-year-old, tells fellow kids to mask up
- Jonathan Majors to join MCU as villain Kang the Conquerer, report says
- TikTok ban won’t prevent employees from being paid, US says in filing