A report by Vice News details how the CDC purchased tracking data for millions of Americans’ mobile phones with an intention of monitoring their movements to see if they were complying with lockdowns, curfews and travel restrictions during the COVID pandemic.
The reports states that the CDC paid $420,000 for one year of data from a company called SafeGraph, which links up with app developers to harvest location data from people’s phones. When people download the apps to their devices, they are asked to accept terms that include sharing location data.
The company, which is linked to a former head of Saudi intelligence, has since been banned from the Google Play Store for violating its T&Cs on data collection.
NEW: CDC bought location data tracking tens of millions of people from a Peter Thiel-backed spy firm; use cases included “hourly monitoring of activity in curfew zones,” activity in schools and houses of worship, and monitoring the Navajo Nation. https://t.co/8EezYurSTD
— Tim Marchman (@timmarchman) May 3, 2022
The documents obtained by Vice state that the procurement request for the data by the CDC was labelled as an “URGENT COVID-19” request and should be given priority.
The documents outline several “potential CDC use cases for data,” specifically listing “the effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic,” “Examination of COVID-19 vaccination rates, mobility, … at the county or sub-county level (this could also be applies to flu and mask use),” and “examination of the correlation of mobility patterns data and rise in COVID-19 cases”.
A CDC document obtained by Vice admits that the data “has been critical for ongoing response efforts, such as hourly monitoring of activity in curfew zones or detailed counts of visits to participating pharmacies for vaccine monitoring.”
Another section notes that “CDC has interest in continued access to this mobility data as the country opens back up. This data is used by several teams/groups in the response and have been resulting in deeper insights into the pandemic as it pertains to human behavior.”
It is believed that at least 20 million active cellphone users per day in the US had data harvested by the process.
Read More: Report: CDC Spied On Americans