The criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service had subscribed to a company called Venntel in 2017-18, to make a crime-solving swifter. This company obtains anonymous location data from the marketing industry and sells it to the government. The subscription had cost $20,000, to the government. The IRS used cell phone data to hack into potential suspects of fraud. All people using social media leave clues throughout the internet, like their fingerprints. Thus, the IRS took advantage of this system to look into the suspects.
Senator Ron Wyden was briefed about how the company uses its data to get the information. He mentioned that the government has decided on a limited subscription with the company to test the services and whether it is useful. However, the data was unable to report any targets of interest during the time of subscription. In February, the Department of Homeland Security agencies decided to buy the subscriptions from Venntel, for immigrant enforcement purposes.
The subscription is heard to be made for helping in the law enforcement requirements of the agency. It was extensively used to solve the drug, cyber and money-laundering crimes. The subscription was also used to get help in solving organized crimes. Till 2018, prosecutors have to present “reasonable grounds” for receiving the cell data of a suspect. However, marketing services not containing personal information, made this rule void.