U.S. Customs And Border Protection Under Fire For Alleged Warrantless Phone Tracking Of Citizens

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The data collection business is a problem that affects anyone who uses a smartphone. Previously, we have seen data purchased that can track users to their doorstep, which is quite concerning in and of itself. Now, it is rumored that government agencies have been buying similar data in place of getting warrants through the proper channels. Both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General and ALCU are investigating these claims to validate and prosecute if true.

Over the past several months, a team of U.S. Senators headed by Ron Wyden (D-Ore) have been investigating claims that federal agencies have been tracking American citizens without warrants. Among the team was former Presidential candidate and senator Elizabeth Warren who had the following to say about the Customs and Border Protection, a division of the DHS:
“CBP is not above the law and refused to answer questions about purchasing people’s mobile location history without a warrant -- including from shady data brokers like Venntel.”
The data purchases from companies like Venntel could be used to bolster border security and track illegal immigrants without needing proper warrants, theoretically violating the fourth amendment. The data Venntel provides comes from other data brokers and apps around the world. This push from the Senate team has now led to the DHS Inspector General to begin digging into the claims. Simultaneously, the ACLU has taken to the claims as well with a lawsuit requesting the agencies involved to turn over records relating the purchase of cell phone location data.
Earlier in November, the LAPD banned facial recognition for law enforcement work as that too presumably skirted fourth amendments laws. It seems that law enforcement agencies are trying to push the envelope under the guise of making the US safer while still stripping away some semblance of privacy. The real question is, though, did we ever have privacy in the digital era?