Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just got its hands on a whole bunch of location data. The news service Motherboard (Vice’s technology segment) uncovered a procurement order for $476,000 paid to the company Venntel Software last month. Venntel specializes in location data mining, compiling and selling GPS data gathered on users from various phone apps.
Sources who work with Venntel gave Motherboard more insight into the type of data the government now has its hands on.
Venntel’s technology only gives anonymized data, meaning it does not identify specific people or phone numbers. It gives only a randomized identification number. BUT there is an easy way to identify the owners of the phone.
The technology allows the CBP to draw a perimeter around a geographical area, and obtain the location data for any phones in that area. In this way, CBP could draw a circle around one particular home, acquire the data from it, and surmise that the few devices in that home belong to the homeowners.
What this means:
This allows Customs and Border Protection to ignore laws that require them to obtain a warrant before surveilling particular subjects. They simply purchase the data, instead of having to show probable cause that a crime has been committed.