Homeland Security records show 'shocking' use of phone data, ACLU says

Image Creidt: Ken Hawkins - Flickr

The Trump administration’s immigration enforcers used mobile location data to track people’s movements on a larger scale than previously known, according to documents that raise new questions about federal agencies’ efforts to get around restrictions on warrantless searches.

The data, harvested from apps on hundreds of millions of phones, allowed the Department of Homeland Security to obtain data on more than 336,000 location data points across North America, the documents show.

These data points came from all over the continent, including in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Denver, Toronto and Mexico City. This location data use has continued into the Biden administration, as Customs and Border Protection renewed a contract for $20,000 into September 2021, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement signed another contract in November 2021 that lasts until June 2023.

The American Civil Liberties Union obtained the records from DHS through a lawsuit it filed in 2020. It provided the documents to POLITICO and separately released them to the public on Monday.