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U.S. Navy bought surveillance data through adtech company that harvests location data from smartphones –


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U.S. Navy bought surveillance data through adtech company that harvests location data from smartphones

The U.S. Navy has bought surveillance data through an adtech company owned by a major military contractor.

A Navy document revealed that the adtech company nContext is owned by Sierra Nevada Corporation, and this “triangle of surveillance” has access to personal data that is often changing hands, along with globally collected data.

According to public records, the Navy was able to use the Sierra Nevada nContext Vanir, a software tool that the Department of Defense (DOD) uses for its surveillance operations around the world.

Navy gains access to a tool that allows the Pentagon access to global surveillance data

Most users think that turning off their phone’s GPS can stop their devices from tracking their locations, but this doesn’t keep their location data private.

The level of control you have over your location data is a lot more limited than most people realize. Location data is also not being treated as personally identifiable information (PII), let alone regulated as such.

A 2019 study of a million free mobile apps showed that most of them are conduits for funneling personal data, including location, to third parties. Unfortunately, these practices are mostly undisclosed.

While you can disable GPS, that won’t stop third parties from tracking you. As long as your phone is on, your location can be traced, whether through your IP address, Wi-Fi networks or cell towers.

Beyond its global scale, the Navy contract does not explicitly reveal what specific sort of data was included in the sale.

However, previous reporting has found that the marketing agency and government contractor responsible are part of a supply chain of location data harvested from devices, funneled through the advertising industry, onto contractors, which is then sent to U.S. government clients.

The news gives one of the clearest examples of how the online advertising industry is a hotbed for surveillance, with many companies often secretly harvesting sensitive data from peoples’ phones and computers and selling that information to law enforcement. The industry is also actively being exploited by military agencies.

The document highlights the Sierra Nevada nContext Vanir software tool. It also discussed several topics, including support and training, both remotely and at the contractor’s facility.

Users gain two months of access to the tool for “evaluation and assessment” along with “intelligence and analytical support.” The document also revealed that the Navy paid $174,941.37 for access to the data.

In one section of the document, the Navy wrote that the contract should include historical and current data for “one large region + three small regions.” Additionally, the Navy wanted “Global 90 day and real-time data.”

The document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Navy Office of Information (NOI) declined to answer questions about the contract.

Instead, the NOI wrote in an email that “unfortunately there is nothing more we can comment on this contract.” The email also confirmed that the document is “the final, fully executed” award.

Adtech firm nContext is owned by a military contractor

On its website, the digital marketing agency nContext claims that is “a tightly-knit team of data scientists, digital marketers, and engineers.”

Testimonials on the site reveal that nContext’s previous clients include SPI Entertainment, an outfit behind Las Vegas shows and Lumenis, a medical technology company.

On paper, nContext seems like an ordinary adtech firm. However, in October, a report revealed that nContext was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), citing incorporation documents.

SNC is a U.S. government contracting heavyweight whose work includes a wide range of sectors and missions across the military.

In November, SNC announced that the U.S. Army selected it to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft which the company had converted from business jets in a deal worth $554 million.

Additionally, SNC builds combat aircraft for the Air Force and works on cyber and electronic warfare systems for the Army.

Sierra Nevada also won a NASA contract to develop the Dream Chaser, a space plane that will run resupply missions to the International Space Station. However, SNC also uses location data harvested from smartphones.

SNC authored a report that suggested COVID-19 was released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology after a “hazardous event,” which was in part based on such data. But other reports suggested that the SNC report was “fundamentally flawed,” including the conclusions reached with the use of cell phone location data. (Related: WATCHED: CDC purchased location data of 55M phone users to track them during COVID-19 lockdowns.)

When asked for comment on the Navy contract, Senator Ron Wyden said the Americans’ Constitutional rights “don’t disappear when they cross the U.S. border.” Wyden added that Americans’ mobile location data “should not be subjected to warrantless surveillance,” even outside the country.

A report suggested that nContext and SNC obtain location data has, in at least some instances, started with Near Intelligence. The firm is based in India and Near Intelligence claimed to have data on more than a billion devices, which was obtained from numerous advertising exchanges.

Reports also discussed something called real-time bidding data, which is where those in the online ad business, or companies wanting to place adverts into users’ sessions, can siphon bidstream data on people, including location.

Referring to the Government Surveillance Reform Act, Wyden said the bipartisan surveillance reform bill would help address this issue and other similar ones.

Visit for similar stories about the military’s surveillance operations.

Watch the video below for more information on your phone’s location tracking feature.

This video is from the Pool Pharmacy channel on

More related stories:

Apple gathers user data and sells it to advertisers.

Pizza Hut Australia HACKED! Data security breach exposes customers’ personal information.

TECH PANIC: Biden to start probing China-based Huawei’s 7-nanometer smartphone processor, which is YEARS ahead of Apple’s latest iPhone technology.

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Written by: radioroxi

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