Data tracking. The threat is real. In an age where nearly everything we do is recorded, it’s almost impossible to be truly “off the grid.”

Back in 2016, a company called PlanetRisk Inc was working on some new software to track refugees. The company was trying to use location tools in a variety of apps, such as games, weather apps, dating sites, and many others. By gathering this information from refugees they could track their movements throughout Europe and towards the U.S.

The Company Wanted to Sell the Data Tracking Software to the U.S.

Yet, what it found was that within this software was something much scarier. It realized that through the data, it could also see where U.S. troops were in the Middle East and what they were doing.

During its work, it discovered that it could follow U.S. troops through the data on their phones because of the multiple apps installed on them. This constituted a major breach in operational and personal security for these soldiers.

An adversary using this data could track U.S. troop movements on deployment, know the approximate inside dimensions of facilities by watching the routes of servicemembers running laps, and if need be target missiles and artillery on clusters of servicemembers in bunkers, command posts, and sleeping quarters.
(Photo by Spencer Lowell/TIME)

The company’s analysts could see phones that had come from military facilities in the U.S., traveled through countries like Canada or Turkey, and were clustered at the abandoned Lafarge Cement Factory in northern Syria. At the time, U.S. special operations and allied forces used the factory as a staging area.

This Has Become a Significant Challenge for the U.S. Military

Your phone is a collection of information with mostly one purpose in mind, to sell your information to ads.

Google is a massive collector of information. Many other companies also sell your information in colossal bulks. And this information could be available and very valuable to America’s adversaries.