Local law enforcement agencies have been caught using a cheap new cell phone tracking tool called Fog Reveal. (A hat tip to The Associated Press for compiling this story). The tool gives police agencies “the power to follow people’s movements months back in time,” according to The Associated Press.
Fog Reveal has been used since at least 2018 in criminal investigations, can search billions of records from 250 million mobile devices, and is possibly a potent workaround of the 4th Amendment. It is no wonder why police rarely mention Fog Reveal “in court records, something that defense attorneys say makes it harder for them to properly defend their clients in cases in which the technology was used.”
Fog Reveal “relies on advertising identification numbers, which Fog officials say are culled from popular cell phone apps such as Waze, Starbucks, and hundreds of others” according to police emails obtained by The Associated Press. That information is then sold to companies including Fog, further demonstrating the role of data brokers in undermining the digital privacy of Americans.
“The capability that it had for bringing up just anybody in an area whether they were in public or at home seemed to me to be a very clear violation of the Fourth Amendment,” said Davin Hall, a former crime data analysis supervisor for the Greensboro, North Carolina, Police Department.
Congress must investigate the use of Fog Reveal by law enforcement agencies and bolster legal protections against such 4th Amendment violations. Congress could begin by passing The Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act, which would block data brokers from selling our personal information to law enforcement and intelligence agencies without authorization by a court. Congress must work to ensure the privacy of all Americans is safe and secure.