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Homeland Security overseer to examine agency’s use of phone location data

In its surveillance program, the Department of Homeland Security has been using phone location data bought from advertisers.


Jason Cipriani/CNET

Your phone can tell a lot about you: where you’ve been, where your home and workplace are, and where your favorite places are. Federal agents are taking advantage of location data siphoned from advertisers through seemingly innocuous apps that you download for weather updates or cheap gas prices, and now a government watchdog is investigating the surveillance program. 

In a letter dated Nov. 25, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, Joseph Cuffari, said his office would audit US Customs and Border Protection’s use of commercial databases to track people by way of their phone locations. CBP is a branch of Homeland Security.

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