NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union and CUNY School of Law’s Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Project today demanded the U.S. government turn over records pertaining to the purchase and use of cell phone location data on Muslim app users. The organizations note these practices are a serious threat to privacy and religious freedom, and yet another betrayal of trust for communities who have long been subjected to intrusive and often unconstitutional surveillance in the United States.
The organizations are requesting communications with companies, contracts, legal analyses, policies and more concerning the purchase and use of this sensitive location data. The request under the Freedom of Information Act was sent to government agencies and U.S. military branches including the FBI, CIA, ODNI, Army, and Navy.
Below is comment from Ashley Gorski, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, on the request:
"The harvesting of data on Muslim app users worldwide is a serious threat to privacy and religious freedom. This is yet another betrayal of trust for communities that have long been subjected to intrusive, often unconstitutional surveillance in the United States. The public deserves answers, and we plan to get them. It’s critical that we uncover the full scope of the government’s purchases of private data to ensure accountability and to prevent future abuses."
Below is comment from Tarek Ismail, Associate Professor of Law and Counsel to the CLEAR Project at CUNY School of Law:
"As if it weren't offensive enough to spy on Muslims by sending informants into their mosques, the federal government is now spying on Muslims through an app that millions of people depend on to pray at home. Where can a Muslim worship beyond the watchful gaze of law enforcement? It's vital that we learn more about which agencies are using this software, where and how."