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Prison Profiteers

Big Brother, as Well as Big Business, Are Tracking You: the Snitch in Your Own Pocket, Purse, or Belt Holder

For instance, it is not unusual for a person with a cellphone to receive a text message and accompanying coupon for a business they are strolling by. Yes, Big Business wants your business to the point that it tracks your every move through your smart phone. Big Business is on point and on its toes in its never-ending quest for its share of the almighty dollar. It is, however, the entity that mints those dollars that citizens need be aware of.

Big Brother has partnered with Big Business in a Big Way to share the ability to track peoples’ movements. The Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) reported on a major operation by the Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) Customs and Border Protection division in early 2020. The anomaly the agencies focused on was a spate of cellular phone signals in a remote desert area between Arizona and Mexico.

Using location data provided by a company called Venntel, DHS used the data “to detect cellphones moving through what was later discovered to be a tunnel created by drug smugglers between the U.S. and Mexico that terminated in a closed Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet on the U.S. side near San Luiz, Ariz,” reported the WSJ.

Venntel gathers data it compiles for tracking by mining applications or apps. People who click on weather apps that adjust a forecast as the person moves from place to place, mapping apps that adjust the user’s position on a virtual map, or something as innocent as a food-ordering app that shows the nearest burger or pizza place, are invaluable tools in tracking cellphone users. Data compiled from enough of these apps assemble life patterns and reveal identities.

The New York Times stated “it would be relatively simple to figure out individual identities in this kind of data.”

Even Little Brother is active in this practice. Former Mississippi County, Missouri, Sheriff Cory Hutcheson is now a felon serving time in a federal prison. He illegally tracked many people through their cellphones without first obtaining a warrant. Among his victims was a county judge, former sheriff, and state police officers. Had he stuck to John Q. Citizen, Hutcheson would probably still be sheriff but as reason.com puts it, “bad cops gonna bad cop, and they’re going to do their worst with whatever tools you give them.”

Securus provided Hutcheson the tracking data he requested. Although Securus is primarily a prison phone provider, the company toadies to mainstream law enforcement by offering location services on cellphones. It obtains its data from Location Smart which, in turn, partners with major providers of cellphone communication networks.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court instructed that “historical cell-site records present even greater privacy concerns than GPS tagging of vehicles.” In order to keep at least one step ahead of the developing law on advancements in technology and constitutional rights, it seems as though Big and Little Brother have been employing convoluted corporate shell games in order to surveil Americans. 

 

 

 

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