HomePakistani AmericanACLU looks into government purchase of location data

ACLU looks into government purchase of location data

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked the U.S. government to turn over all records related to its purchase and usage of cellphone location data from Muslim app users after news that U.S. military customers had purchased U.S. phone location data, The Guardian reported.

A Motherboard investigation published November 16 reported that a Muslim prayer app called Muslim Pro and a dating app named Muslim Mingle sold user location data to a data broker company called X-Mode, which sells data to clients that have included U.S. military contractors.

The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request Thursday asking for documentation from the CIA, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), and other U.S. governmental and military agencies related to U.S. government purchase of private user location data.

The request reads, “These developments raise serious concerns about the scope of the Agencies’ purchases, the Agencies’ discriminatory focus on Muslims, and the warrantless acquisition and use of location information from people inside the United States […].”

ACLU staff attorney Ashley Gorski told NowThis, “It’s yet another betrayal of trust for a community that has long been subjected to unconstitutional and intrusive surveillance practices by the U.S. government and by local law enforcement.”

Joining the ACLU in filing the FOIA request was the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Project. According to its webpage, CLEAR’s goal is to “supports Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities in the New York City area and beyond that are targeted by local, state, or federal government agencies under the guise of national security and counterterrorism.” 

Tarek Ismail, senior staff attorney at CLEAR, told NowThis, “As if it weren’t offensive enough to spy on Muslims by sending informants into their mosques, the federal government is now spying on Muslims through an app that millions of people depend on to pray at home.”

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