Four of the country’s largest cellular providers have been selling your real-time location information, allowing a Texas-based prison technology company, Securus, to track any phone “within seconds,” without a warrant. The system uses data sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and other carriers – who provide it through an intermediary called LocationSmart.
The service can find the whereabouts of almost any cellphone in the country within seconds. It does this by going through a system typically used by marketers and other companies to get location data from major cellphone carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, documents show. –New York Times
Last week Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the FCC demanding an investigation into Securus, after the New York Times revealed that former Mississippi County sheriff Cory Hutcheson used the service almost a dozen time to track the phones of other officers, and even targeted a judge.
Between 2014 and 2017, the sheriff, Cory Hutcheson, used the service at least 11 times, prosecutors said. His alleged targets included a judge and members of the State Highway Patrol. Mr. Hutcheson, who was dismissed last year in an unrelated matter, has pleaded not guilty in the surveillance cases. –NYT
Hutcheson has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful surveillance.
How did this happen?
How is it that LocationSmart obtained real time location data on millions of Americans? Moreover, who else has access to that information?
Kevin Blankston, director of New America’s Open Technology Institute told ZDNet in a phone call that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act only restricts telecom companies from disclosing data to the government. It does not restrict carriers from disclosing information to other companies – a loophole Blankston calls “one of the biggest gaps in US privacy law.”
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