Collecting and Selling Mobile Phone Location Data

The Wall Street Journal has an article about a company called Anomaly Six LLC that has an SDK that’s used by “more than 500 mobile applications.” Through that SDK, the company collects location data from users, which it then sells.

Anomaly Six is a federal contractor that provides global-location-data products to branches of the U.S. government and private-sector clients. The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients.


Anomaly Six was founded by defense-contracting veterans who worked closely with government agencies for most of their careers and built a company to cater in part to national-security agencies, according to court records and interviews.

Just one of the many Internet companies spying on our every move for profit. And I’m sure they sell to the US government; it’s legal and why would they forgo those sales?

Posted on August 11, 2020 at 6:00 AM19 Comments


David Rudling August 11, 2020 6:20 AM

This (fractured to prevent autorun)

ht tps://

is 4 days old but not behind a paywall

David Rudling August 11, 2020 6:25 AM

Or there is another reaction here

ht tps://

rrd August 11, 2020 7:55 AM

The govt already has a much better tracking system as they have been in the core infrastructure for quite some time, so why would they bother paying for less comprehensive data? Of course, that doesn’t mean those megalomaniacs wouldn’t spend our money on even more data anyway.

Selling our data to private companies, however, is just a tell as to exactly how broken the system is — broken for us, that is; it is performing just as they have tweaked it to over the decades, as I’m sure it’s all quite legal enough.

People who have never done large-scale data processing don’t realize that the computing power to analyze 350M interrelated data sets over time has existed for quite awhile now. (Each of us being one of those data sets, of course.)

I worked in a place that had a recent employee who got a job at Equifax (as he was a vt100 app wizard and Equifax was all about that vt100 screenpop life). He came by one day and said that the deepest sub-level was nothing but rows and rows of high-density tape machines and storage shelves with robots that shuffle tapes into and out of the players/recorders. He said they already had everyone’s medical info, but they couldn’t legally use it yet. That was over 20 years ago.

At this point, I wonder if our attempts at internet anonymity are counterproductive as (a) we are already a known, tracked quantity in their systems (with their behavioral analytics), and (b) it enables so many bad actors online.

It seems to me that standing up and openly declaring one’s allegience is the only way to defeat fascism (and the ills of unfettered capitalism) without society descending into horrific chaos (bloody revolution being like burning your house down to kill the termites). I mean, in theory, anonymity keeps freedom fighters from being targeted by oppressive regimes, but if that’s already happening, what’s the point? (Yes, I prefer responsible anonymity but that’s seeming less and less viable or useful or even sensible by the day.)

I wonder, back in the 1930s, exactly how many of the Nazi leadership would have needed to be eliminated to nip their machine in the bud. Such would have been a kind of “Santa Claus Solution”. You know, who’s naughty and who’s nice. Or even more simply: Sequestering the Rabid until they’re cured.

It sure doesn’t seem like “On Earth as it is in Heaven” will happen by ignoring the evil bastids who have all the resources and no concern whatsoever for the misery and death they cause either directly or indirectly.

One way or the other, all the Earth’s peoples must come to terms with the fact that the current systems reward the aggressively amoral liars with more power than is good for us hoi polloi. Students of history must surely recognize the utterly constant theme of their ebb and flow. It is merely the long tail of our negative human potential, yet the levers they are able to wield do vast damage.

One day it will, indeed, be ended. The only question that remains is, “By which method and how much pain will the cure entail?”

Clive Robinson August 11, 2020 8:46 AM

@ ALL,

The simple solution to this problem is,

    Just stop using mobile phone apps or other Smart device apps.

For those a little older the big promise made by the likes of Google, Apple and other “Walled Garden” OS systems was that we would be “safer” than on the standard Open PC architecture…

Well time to ask the obvious question,

    Are we any safer with walled gardens?

If the answer is no then it’s time to either ask other questions or just dump the walled garden products, guess what is easiest for the average user?

Yup dump the products, because any questions you ask are only going to get the equivalent of lies as answers.

echo August 11, 2020 9:24 AM

Like I said before why should I trust the standards of an American company with its different legislative framework, national culture, and attitudes and practices? At some point you get fed up having the argument.

I’m perfectly fine with a boycott of America. I’m also fine with the EU boycotting the UK if it backslides on social democratic polices.

justarandomgal August 11, 2020 10:55 AM

Or this one here:
htt ps://

…along the privacy invasion lines.

This won’t stop until sh(p)eeple stand up and demand their lives back.

rrd August 11, 2020 3:35 PM

@ echo

Sheeple just blindly follow along with the herd, without critically thinking about the culture they’re a part of. They resist change, against all logic, making senseless and meaningless arguments for holding onto their ignorance with both hands.

Those of us who have humbly self-evolved ourselves into the new era can only look upon them and say, “I know what that was like as I once used to be there. But, for the Grace of God, there go I.”

So, yeah, for sure, we were all idiots at one time. It’s just that some of us have pulled our heads out of our keisters. Fresh memes get spread, offering us new fruits to partake of. Not all new memes, however, lead us out of idiocy; many pull us deeper into the darkness. Discernment of which are which is the single most important kind of decision we will learn to make as a part of our human development.

Ultimately, it’s a question of, “Does the person seek to uphold an ethic based upon ever more progressive ideals, or are they solely interested in keeping their station in the herd and the antiquated world it formed within?” It is obvious in 2020’s world that the latter far outnumber the former.

We are all someone elses idiot.

Our ability to learn and adopt better attitudes and behaviors means that that doesn’t have to be true, but the irony is that the less of an idiot one becomes the more the idiots of the world claim you are the idiot.

SpaceLifeForm August 11, 2020 11:04 PM


Chuck Pergiel August 12, 2020 3:59 AM

“The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients.” Gawd, that’s some tortured English. How about ‘we don’t sell to the government’, if that is indeed what they mean.

Q August 12, 2020 4:46 AM

“The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients.”

It doesn’t matter though, since any of those “private-sector clients” can sell the data on to the government afterwards.

echo August 12, 2020 3:16 PM


“The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients.”

It doesn’t matter though, since any of those “private-sector clients” can sell the data on to the government afterwards.

See also Patriot Act and FISA courts and their variants. That data went walkies the second it landed.

polaqa August 16, 2020 3:57 AM

Goverment is concerned about people lives, it tries to protect us against the threats. I know it because I think and do the same, I worry about my family, thats why I use to spy on not only location data, but browsing history and messaging apps. Youll fell that it is such a relief when you know what secrets your family members keep on their cell phones.

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.