US Government Agencies Broke Law by Buying Smartphone Location Data

A new report from the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that three US government agencies broke the law by buying smartphone location data from a data broker. The agencies involved are the US Secret Service, US Customs and Border Protection, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The report found that the agencies did not adhere to DHS privacy policies or develop sufficient policies before procuring and using the data. This is a violation of the E-Government Act of 2002 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which require certain privacy-sensitive technology or data obtained from that technology to have an approved Privacy Impact Assessment before such technology is developed or procured.

The report makes some important recommendations, including that the agencies discontinue use of the data until Privacy Impact Assessments are completed and approved, and that they develop and implement controls to ensure compliance with DHS privacy policies in the future.

This report is a significant development, as it is the first official confirmation that US government agencies have been breaking the law by buying smartphone location data. It remains to be seen what actions will be taken to address the findings of the report and to ensure that the agencies comply with privacy laws in the future.

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