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CDC Tracked Millions of Americans' Phones, Including at Church, to See if They Were Obeying COVID Lockdowns

05-10-2022
(Image: Adobe Stock)
(Image: Adobe Stock)

NEWS ANALYSIS

At one time or another, we have all laughed and enjoyed movies and television shows in which one of the characters is always portrayed as a bit crazy because he or she was always complaining that the government was tracking them via their cell phone.  

Now, a new report reveals the federal government snooped on American citizens using their cell phones during the COVID pandemic, and it's nothing to laugh about. 

The secular news outlet VICE reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bought access to location data harvested from tens of millions of phones in the United States to perform analysis of compliance with curfews, track patterns of people visiting K-12 schools, and specifically monitor the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation, according to CDC documents dated 2021 and obtained by VICE's Motherboard. 

Location data is information gathered from a cell phone. VICE explained the data the CDC bought was designed to follow trends that follow groups of people as they move above. But critics and other cybersecurity experts have repeatedly questioned how such data could be used to identify an individual or groups of people and track them. 

Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason, the CDC paid SafeGraph, a private firm, for access to the data. 

VICE reports the agency intended to use the acquired data for more general purposes. The CDC used the data to monitor COVID curfews, neighbor-to-neighbor visits, visits to churches, other places of worship, schools, and pharmacies for "vaccine monitoring." 

The documents, according to the outlet, also contain 21 other "potential CDC use cases for data." 
 
VICE's Motherboard received the documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the CDC. 

Morgan Wright, a cybersecurity expert, recently told Fox News having access to private data exposes our private lives, and all it takes is having enough data. Wright said all you need to do is just carry around a phone. 

"We can track you wherever you go and by doing that, we can figure out what it is you're doing because we get enough data, we can figure out when you do these certain actions, this is what you're involved in," he said. 

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