‘Mass Surveillance in Hyperdrive’: US Company Suspected of Enabling Government Abuses - Report

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a long list of controversial behavior, such as the flouting of constitutional protections and mass arrests of racial justice protesters. Now a US-based data giant is looking to add to that list as it faces criticism for reportedly helping to facilitate the agency’s abuses of power.New documents released after a Freedom of Information Act request suggest the company LexusNexus has been selling personal location and facial recognition data to the controversial agency since late last year. The information was revealed Thursday in a report in US media.The data sold by the company also includes social media posts, IP addresses, employment history, and phone call records.“This contract is mass surveillance in hyperdrive,” said Julie Mao, referring to the $15.9 million agreement signed by LexusNexus.“It’s frightening that a rogue agency such as CBP has access to so many powerful technologies at the click of the button. Unfortunately, this is what LexisNexis appears now to be selling to thousands of police forces across the country. It’s now become a one-stop shop for accessing a range of invasive surveillance tools.”Companies such as LexusNexus gather personal data from multiple sources. Among the most invasive information offered by the company is location tracking data gathered from individuals’ smartphones. Modern mobile phones are in constant communication with cell towers throughout the country, frequently “pinging” them as they send and receive data.The information is stored on smartphones and can be retrieved by third-party applications which sell the data to various companies, which is then aggregated by LexusNexus.Police agencies’ purchasing of the information is controversial as it’s seen as an end run around constitutional protections against the gathering of such data without a warrant.The conduct of CBP has generated debate about the limits of gove ..

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