The US military buys location data from users around the world

The military bought access to the Locate X service for monitoring purposes, as well as acquiring personal data from X-Mode.38.jpgThe US military purchases detailed data on the movement of people around the world obtained from conventional applications. Motherboard analyzed a number of such applications, the data of which ended up in the hands of the military. The most commonly purchased personal information was the Muslim Pro Prayer App, which has been downloaded over 98 million times worldwide. Other examples include the Muslim dating app Muslim Mingle, the popular Craigslist app, a storm tracking app, and a “level” app that can be used as a measuring tool.

The US military uses two separate data streams to obtain location information from users. One relies on a company called Babel Street to develop Locate X. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), an anti-terrorism, counterinsurgency, and special intelligence company, has bought access to Locate X to aid special forces operations overseas.

Locate X provides advertising data obtained from marketing sources to intelligence services, law enforcement agencies and the military for monitoring purposes. As the WSJ notes, there is a clause in the terms of use of the service, according to which customers have no right to disclose the existence of Locate X.

“Our access to the software is being used to support the requirements of Special Operations Forces missions overseas. We strictly adhere to established procedures and policies to protect privacy and civil liberties, as well as the constitutional and legal rights of American citizens, ”US Special Operations spokesman Tim Hawkins confirmed the purchase of Locate X.

Locate X's data is anonymous, but a former Babel Street employee said "we can completely de-anonymize a person."

Another channel of information is associated with the company X-Mode, which receives user geodata directly from applications and then sells it to contractors and, accordingly, the military.

As noted by the publication, some application developers did not know who the location data of their users would end up with, and even in the privacy policy it is difficult to understand how many companies or government agencies are buying confidential information.

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