Phone location data refers to the information collected by cell phones through the GPS chip located on their phone. As people travel around with their phones, it creates a profile of where they go with that phone, allowing anyone with access to that data to potentially see where a person lives, works, goes to school, or otherwise spends a large amount of time. Many companies that collect this phone location data also sell this data commercially as a way of making extra money from their customers.
While most purchasers of this data are private companies, ICE and CBP have begun purchasing this data to be able to track immigration law violators, such as undocumented immigrants or people who overstay their visas. Despite efforts by the company contracted with the government, Venntel Inc., to anonymize the data, DHS is able to use other information it has to figure out the individual identities of cell phone holders, allowing them to identify and track their movements. While there are privacy concerns, there is little that can currently be done to stop this practice, as the phone location data can be purchased by anyone and, thus, doesn’t require a warrant or court order for DHS to access.
The lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP are experienced in handling various immigration matters, including removal defense, asylum applications, visa applications, waivers and more. For more information or to schedule a consultation
at our New York City or New Jersey law office, call (212) 267-2555.