Malwarebytes: How the cops buy a “God view” of your location data

Malwarebytes: How the cops buy a “God view” of your location data, with Bennett Cyphers: Lock and Code S04E09:

The list of people and organizations that are hungry for your location data—collected so routinely and packaged so conveniently that it can easily reveal where you live, where you work, where you shop, pray, eat, and relax—includes many of the usual suspects.

Advertisers, obviously, want to send targeted ads to you and they believe those ads have a better success rate if they’re sent to, say, someone who spends their time at a fast-food drive-through on the way home from the office, as opposed to someone who doesn’t, or someone who’s visited a high-end department store, or someone who, say, vacations regularly at expensive resorts. Hedge funds, interestingly, are also big buyers of location data, constantly seeking a competitive edge in their investments, which might mean understanding whether a fast food chain’s newest locations are getting more foot traffic, or whether a new commercial real estate development is walkable from nearby homes.

But perhaps unexpected on this list is police.

According to a recent investigation from Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Associated Press, a company called Fog Data Science has been gathering Americans’ location data and selling it exclusively to local law enforcement agencies in the United States. Fog Data Science’s tool—a subscription-based platform that charges clients for queries of the company’s database—is called Fog Reveal. And according to Bennett Cyphers, one of the investigators who uncovered Fog Reveal through a series of public record requests, it’s rather powerful.

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