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USA uses app information to track undocumented immigrants

An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that the Trump administration has purchased commercial databases to find immigrants

Cell on a surface with a map of the United States in the background.

Cell on a surface with a map of the United States in the background. / Photo: Pxhere - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

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Leer en español: EE.UU usa información de apps para rastrear a indocumentados

The American media, The Wall Street Journal, found that the Donald Trump administration has bought databases that sell commercial applications to track undocumented immigrants. According to WSJ, data concerning the location of millions of cell phones are used; These data are collected by applications such as the meteorological service and games.

Usually, companies collect this data to sell it to third parties and offer, for example, advertising. Thanks to this route, it is that the government has accessed commercial information.

WSJ found that the government began acquiring these services since 2017 and has spent $ 190,000 in the purchase of these databases. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) is one of the agencies responsible for using the information and thus identify people who do not have their immigration papers in order.

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Another agency that uses this data is the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CPB) to track unusual activity in places like the US-Mexico border. According to the results of the journalistic investigation, thanks to the use of these data, in 2018, the CPB was able to find a tunnel on the border that was used for drug trafficking.

When reviewing contracts and contrasting information with various sources, WSJ evidenced that in September 2019 the CPB paid approximately one million dollars to acquire software licenses with which they were able to access the location of millions of cell phones.

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A spokesman for the media said that "although the CBP has access to location information, it is important to note that this information does not include data from telephone towers, is not ingested in mass and does not include the identity of individual users ." However, The purchase of data generated and collected by private companies by the government reveals that commercial surveillance is now in state hands.

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