The technology is called Fog Reveal. This can give investigators clues to identify possible suspects in criminal incidents. It can extract data from hundreds of millions
GREENSBORO, NC — Two Triad law enforcement agencies are using little-known technology that allows law enforcement to track your cell phone, according to a report from The Associated Press.
Documents and emails obtained by AP found surveillance technology allows them to find suspects without a warrant.
At least one former employee quit over its use.
The program is called Fog Reveal and it can track hundreds of millions of cell phones using information from apps that track your location.
Users cannot find the name of the phone owner, but can see where the phone has been and track the owner’s habits.
Law enforcement seizes a crime scene in the Fog system. The technology then shows them all the phones that have been near that area, dating back up to three years.
The service is also inexpensive, sometimes costing only $7,500 per year. In addition, no warrant is required.
The report revealed that the Greensboro Police Department used Fog. Davin Hall was a data analyst for the department. He resigned in 2020, after raising concerns about the technology with department and city leaders.
“Ideally, the police would identify a potential suspect and obtain a warrant for increased surveillance of that individual,” Hall said. “This program is kind of designed to develop suspects that the police don’t know about or don’t know about.”
The report indicates that GPD chose not to renew its Fog subscription. Earlier this year, the department found that the technology does not “independently benefit investigations.”
WFMY News 2 has reached out to GPD for comment. Ministry officials said: “We tried the technology, we didn’t find it useful. We don’t use it anymore.”
The company has contracts with at least 24 other law enforcement agencies nationwide, including the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.
The bureau spent $9,000 on the system last year and has since renewed it.
The use of this technology raises many concerns among privacy activists. They believe this violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Hall echoes that sentiment.
“I don’t think it should be used by law enforcement,” Hall said. “At the very least, I think people should be aware that it’s being used and that this kind of surveillance is going on.”
You can control whether your data is shared with apps and companies like this.
You can turn off location sharing, go to settings, then click on an app that tracks location. From here, you can disable Precise Location.