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CDC purchased phone data to spy on Americans, monitor compliance with lockdowns, files show

Rev. Felicia Bagneris is testing for COVID-19 at the historic First African Methodist Episcopal Church.(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
April 06, 2023

During the Covid-19 pandemic, privacy concerns ran high for Americans. Debates over vaccine cards, data tracking in vaccine records, and concerns over contact tracing and case management tracking were widely discussed. 

According to contracts obtained by The Epoch Times, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) paid two tracking companies a combined sum of $628,000 in exchange for being supplied with location tracking for individuals under lockdown during the height of the pandemic. 

The tracking information was used to “assess home-by-hour behaviors (curfew monitoring), by exploring the percentage of mobile devices at home during specific periods of time,” the CDC said.

Further, the data could be integrated with other data sets “to provide a comprehensive picture of movement/travel of persons during the COVID-19 pandemic to better understand mandatory stay-at-home orders, business closure, school re-openings, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions in states and cities.”

The data could also be utilized to gauge how well individuals were following quarantine protocols when engaged in interstate travel, or during infection spikes among patrons of churches, grocery stores, and other social gatherings. 

The CDC published two studies in 2020 based on the data.

READ MORE: CDC launches investigation into COVID vax ‘safety concern’

Following the CDC’s payment for the data, no further studies based on analysis of the data have been produced. The CDC obtained clearance to request such data from allowances provided to emergency orders related to public health. 

The order form for Cuebiq, Inc., showed a request date of June 2021, while Safegraph, Inc., was ordered in April 2021. 

“For COVID-19, the insights derived from these data provide essential information on the impact and effectiveness of policies and COVID-19 mitigation measures (e.g., jurisdictional stay-at-home orders and business closures) that had profound effects on communities,” Scott Pauley, a CDC spokesperson, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“These data provide important insights to protect public health and have been used to understand population-level impacts of COVID-19 policies and can shed important light on other pressing public health problems, like natural disaster response, and toxic environmental exposures. CDC does not and could not use these data for monitoring compliance with COVID-19 orders or individual tracking.”

While the CDC states the data was anonymously aggregated to protect the individual’s identity, previous studies have shown that even anonymous data can be tied to an individual.