Privacy has been a big focus in the U.S. as of late thanks to news regarding the NSA, retailer and other hacks and more. Now it looks like things might get even more messy.
According to a sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Marshals Service program flies airplanes around “at least five” major metropolitan airports with a range that is said to cover “most” U.S. citizens. These planes are reportedly equipped with devices known as “dirtboxes” that mimic a cellphone tower to trick phones into sharing their registration info.
These dirtboxes are said to be used on a “regular basis” in order to try and collect information on criminal suspects. However, they also collect data from many innocent people in the process, including their identifying info and location.
While the dirtboxes reportedly discard the information collected on innocents, the claim that the U.S. government is regularly flying planes around and pretending to be a cell tower so that it can get identifying info on people is a bit worrying. Not only are these details being collected by the government without the knowledge of the public, but it’s not clear exactly what they do to get rid of that info.
One WSJ source said that what’s being done in the U.S. is “completely legal,” but a federal appeals court recently determined that the over-collection and stockpiling of data was a breach of the Constitution. Obviously this is a pretty big deal, and it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.