New York (The Verge) — Secret Service bought access to cellphone location data theverge.com/2020/8/17/2137….
A contract shows that the US Secret Service bought data from Babel Street service Locate X, which uses aggregated phone app information to track users’ locations.
Products like Locate X typically rely on data brokers who offer access to large amounts of theoretically anonymous user data, officially intended for marketers or other non-government entities. (In practice, it’s often possible to identify individual users.) They let law enforcement agents bypass getting a warrant and requesting data from companies — a process that provides more accountability and privacy.
Protocol’s report describes Locate X as a powerful tracking tool that aggregates data from popular phone apps, then lets buyers track the location history of devices that were active at a specific time and place. It reported that the Secret Service, US Customs and Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have all used the product. The USSS contract that Motherboardpublished, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, runs from 2017 to 2018. One former employee previously told Protocol that the USSS had used Locate X to seize illegal credit card skimmers installed at gas pumps in 2018. — Adi Robertson/@verge