USA - Government Using Cellphone GPS Data

K. Farmer

In a review of the Internal Revenue Service’s use of a commercial platform that allowed the agency to track cellphones, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration said that a landmark 2018 Supreme Court case might preclude the warrantless tracking of criminal suspects through location data generated by weather, game and other apps. The report encouraged stricter controls on use of the data.

“The court’s rationale was that phone users do not truly voluntarily agree to share the information given the necessity of phones in our society,” the IRS inspector general concluded. “Courts may apply similar logic to GPS data sold by marketers.”

Harvesting cellphone-location data from apps accessed by customers—used to understand consumer behavior, make investment and real-estate decisions, target advertising and more—is a multibillion-dollar industry. Unlike cell-tower data kept by carriers, these data sets identify individual users only by an alphanumeric code, which the marketing industry says cloaks the identities of phone users. However, in practice, users’ identities can be gleaned based on things like the address where the device is usually located in the evening. This data also pinpoints a phone’s location more precisely than the data held by carriers.

This pool of data is increasingly being tapped by military units, intelligence agencies and law enforcement to observe the patterns, habits and routines of small groups of people or even individuals, including terrorist networks, criminal enterprises and unlawful immigrants, and to apprehend suspects, according to interviews with numerous people familiar with the government’s actions.

-www.wsj.com, 22 February 2021

Commentary

The saying aptly applies: “Nothing is private anymore.” Cellphones have become the perfect tool to eventually track the whereabouts of every person on earth in real time. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to function in society without the use of internet banking, paying bills online, etc. As the article states, “…given the necessity of phones in our society.” It is easy to see how the Antichrist’s policy of “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17) can be readily implemented. There won’t be an overwhelming need to force the public to adopt these measures, as most will gladly submit, due to its convenience. (By K. Farmer)

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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