According to the statement, government procurement showed that CBP paid that money to a government contractor named Venntel and that CBP officials confirmed during a call with Senate staff that he was using Venntel to track phones. without obtaining warrants. Venntel provides its customers with information and APIs based on “100% commercially available data” and seems to generate its data mobile advertising.
DHS too published a letter announcing its investigation, and Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari wrote that the audit aims to determine whether DHS (which oversees CBP) has “developed, updated and adhered to policies relating to cell phone monitoring devices.”
But Cuffari also mentioned DHS “use and protection of open source information”, which, he says, “includes the Ministry’s use of information provided by the public via cellular devices, such as social media status updates, geotagged photos, and recordings of specific locations.” DHS was recently criticized for its “open source intelligence reports” on members of the press, and was reportedly ordered to review its procedures related to collecting identifiable information from American journalists, according to CNN.
Cuffari’s letter gives no indication of an estimated timeframe, so it is not clear when the results of this audit will be known.