The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reportedly spent $420,000 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to access citizens’ cellphone data and monitor compliance with COVID-19 restrictions using the activity.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the CDC paid a data-tracking company named SafeGraph to oversee aggregated trends from users’ devices, including frequent updates on activity coming out of curfew zones, to ensure enforcement of COVID guidelines.
Documentation between SafeGraph and the health agency defined the request for data as “critical for ongoing response efforts, such as hourly monitoring of activity in curfew zones or detailed counts of visits to participating pharmacies for vaccine monitoring.”
Additional detailing by a Vice report notes “that the CDC planned to use the data to analyze compliance with curfews, track patterns of people visiting K-12 schools, and specifically monitor the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation.”
The outlet spoke with cybersecurity researcher Zach Edwards who claimed that the CDC deliberately used the data for purposes beyond the pandemic.
“The CDC seems to have purposefully created an open-ended list of use cases,” Edwards said, “which included monitoring curfews, neighbor to neighbor visits, visits to churches, schools and pharmacies, and also a variety of analyses with this data specifically focused on ‘violence.'” No response has been issued by the CDC against the breaking report.
On Tuesday, the CDC released an update calling for the reinstatement of masks on public transportation, well over two years since the pandemic’s start.
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