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CDC Bought Harvested Phone Location Data to Track Covid Lockdown Compliance

CDC Bought Harvested Phone Location Data to Track Covid Lockdown Compliance

“The CDC seems to have purposefully created an open-ended list of use cases, which included monitoring curfews, neighbor to neighbor visits, visits to churches, schools and pharmacies, and also a variety of analysis with this data specifically focused on ‘violence.’”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAYdlpbVUNA

Traditionally, the acronym CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, now perhaps it should be renamed Cyber-Data Collectors.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paid for location data harvested from millions of cell phones to track compliance with COVID-19 lockdown measures, according to a new report.

The CDC paid $420,000 for a year of access to the cell phone location data from the data brokerage SafeGraph, according to documents reported by Vice News on Tuesday.

The data was aggregated, meaning that it was intended to show general trends rather than the movements of specific phones, however the move still set off alarm bells with some privacy advocates.

Documents obtained by Vice News’ Motherboard indicate that the CDC purchased access to millions of Americans’ phone data, not just for covid lockdown tracking.

SafeGraph, the company the CDC paid $420,000 for access to one year of data to, includes Peter Thiel and the former head of Saudi intelligence among its investors. Google banned the company from the Play Store in June.

Do you work in the location data industry? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on [email protected], or email [email protected]

The CDC used the data for monitoring curfews, with the documents saying that SafeGraph’s data “has been critical for ongoing response efforts, such as hourly monitoring of activity in curfew zones or detailed counts of visits to participating pharmacies for vaccine monitoring.” The documents date from 2021.

Zach Edwards, a cybersecurity researcher who closely follows the data marketplace, told Motherboard in an online chat after reviewing the documents that “The CDC seems to have purposefully created an open-ended list of use cases, which included monitoring curfews, neighbor to neighbor visits, visits to churches, schools and pharmacies, and also a variety of analysis with this data specifically focused on ‘violence.’” (The document doesn’t stop at churches; it mentions “places of worship.”)

It appears as if the CDC’s data collection efforts are ongoing.

…{T]he documents also reveal 21 other ways the CDC planned to utilize the data, including “tracking patterns of those visiting K-12 schools by the school” and “examination of the effectiveness of public policy on [the] Navajo Nation.”

While the data purchase was initially marked “URGENT” amid the pandemic, the agreement between the CDC and SafeGraph has been extended as the CDC argues it “has interest in continued access to this mobility data as the country opens back up.”

I must note that the CDC did not track any specific phones. It simply bought aggregated location data from a third-party vendor to do population-level analysis.

However, the next time an agency wants to lock down the country and then monitor whether people obey their arbitrary rules, it is good to be mindful of how your personal phone location data may be used. The CDC has earned exactly ZERO trust during its pandemic response.

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Comments

Heil Hitler!

Close The Fed | May 4, 2022 at 1:03 pm

What a strange time we live in.

    Peabody in reply to Close The Fed. | May 4, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    For sure. The Fed raised rates by half a percentage point — the biggest hike in two decades.

      randian in reply to Peabody. | May 4, 2022 at 5:13 pm

      The Fed raised rates by half a percentage point — the biggest hike in two decades

      The S&P 500 bizarrely responded with a single-day spike of almost 3%.

It goes without saying that there is absolutely no legislative authorization for either the CDC or the USPS to conduct surveillance on anyone, nor are there any budgetary appropriations specifically for such activities or the employment of personnel for the same. This is illegal.

2smartforlibs | May 4, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Thank the BUYden co-authored Patriot act.

Sounds so CCPish.

Nothing to worry about here! Let’s make up a “truth squad” so the rest of us, unwashed masses, won’t have to listen to unprocessed facts. Sacarsm font required.

Peter Thiel also gave JD Vance 14+ million for his senate campaign.
Gibb’s Rule 39: There is no such thing as a coincidence.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | May 4, 2022 at 2:29 pm

However, now perhaps it should be renamed Cyber-Data Collectors.

That was just an adjunct to the CDC’s main role of determining rental policy for the nation.

impeachable?

The CDC is one more warped, mutated and duplicative agency for the next administration to axe.

It has been a political entity of the left since the moment they declared gun violence a national public health crisis, a tool the Left use to give quasi-scientific-health spin to whatever they need spun.

For me, the last straw was their farcical, politically driven incompetence and massive overreach during the Covid fiasco, such as their totally illegitimate ‘eviction freeze’, a moratorium they had absolutely no authority to impose.

The CDC has long since exceeded its Use By Date, Particularly since we already have a Dept of Health and Human Services.

Why am I not surprised? Oh, yeah, because this whole thing has been run as if their instruction manual is 1984.

I don’t see the complaint. After all, it’s 100% voluntary. If you don’t want to be tracked, get rid of the cell phone.

    CommoChief in reply to txvet2. | May 4, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    How about a mandatory opt in requirement for users who want to voluntarily participate in having their location data scooped up, monetized and sold to big brother? The user could still have full functionality and service but without the Orwellian aspects, that is what a voluntary system looks like, no coercion.

    That’s the ideal. In reality I don’t have a cellphone, haven’t used one since 2014 and couldn’t be happier. Don’t miss it at all.

      txvet2 in reply to CommoChief. | May 4, 2022 at 9:25 pm

      That would be a good idea if it weren’t for the fact that too many of these companies have been caught tracking their members even when they weren’t supposed to.

        CommoChief in reply to txvet2. | May 5, 2022 at 8:46 am

        Honestly, the easiest course is for Congress to pass a simple statute that makes clear that user data belongs to the user and that data can’t be collected or sold without consent. Data in this context being geo location, name, address, purchasing history, browser history. It wouldn’t include things one posts.

This is precisely the same method of data gathering that was able to determine that there were about 2000 people who stuffed the ballot boxes in all crucial states with illegally cast votes to the astounding 800,000 illegally cast votes in 2020. It is extremely well documented in 2000mules.com – documentary will be streamed on May 7th. MUST SEE!

conservincali | May 4, 2022 at 6:45 pm

I’d be interested in the specifics on the data. Dates and locations. Wondering if they bought the data to get ahead of the True the Vote investigation.

During lockdown. I locked my phone down at home whenever I left the house.

What lock down. Didnt do lockdown

When I’m out locally I usually leave the phone at home. When I’m driving a few hours away I’ll take the phone, but turn it off and put it in a Faraday bag. I’m real tired of being spied on.
I’ve told people for years to read through those EULA agreements, told them they’re being spied on.
No one cared. Hopefully they’re learning now.

Steven Brizel | May 5, 2022 at 8:57 am

If the Republicans regain control of Congress there is a definite need for a full investigation into CDC and its ongoing actions beyond its Congressionally mandated activities

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