Sold by Virginia-based Fog Data Science LLC, Fog Reveal has been used since at least 2018 in criminal investigations ranging from the murder of a nurse in Arkansas to tracing the movements of a potential participant in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The tool is rarely, if ever, mentioned in court records, something that defence attorneys say makes it harder for them to properly defend their clients in cases in which the technology was used.
It relies on advertising identification numbers, which Fog officials say are culled from popular cellphone apps such as Waze, Starbucks and hundreds of others that target ads based on a person’s movements and interests, according to police emails. That information is then sold to companies like Fog.
The problem is likely too though that the information is not just sold to the police. We are only starting to scratch the surface of what our personal metadata is worth, and what it all can be used for. Too many people only worry about the content of their actual messages or posts, but it is our metadata that reveals where we live, where we go, what we look at online, what time we get up and go to sleep, who our friends are, who else we are in proximity to, what speed we drive at, and so many more of our habits.
We decide what to post in a message, but we don't decide about our leaked metadata. The value is in the metadata, not in our carefully crafted messages or posts.
See Tech tool offers police ‘mass surveillance on a budget’
Local law enforcement agencies from suburban Southern California to rural North Carolina have been using an obscure cellphone tracking tool, at times without search warrants, that gives them the power to follow people’s movements months back in time, according to public records and internal emails obtained by The Associated Press.