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Your Car Is Spying on You, and a CBP Contract Shows the Risks
by Sam Biddle
Posted July 1, 2021
U.S. Customs and Border Protection purchased technology that vacuums up reams of personal information stored inside cars, according to a federal contract reviewed by The Intercept, illustrating the serious risks in connecting your vehicle and your smartphone.
MSAB marketing materials promise cops access to a vast array of sensitive personal information quietly stored in the infotainment consoles and various other computers used by modern vehicles — a tapestry of personal details akin to what CBP might get when cracking into one’s personal phone. MSAB claims that this data can include “Recent destinations, favorite locations, call logs, contact lists, SMS messages, emails, pictures, videos, social media feeds, and the navigation history of everywhere the vehicle has been.” MSAB even touts the ability to retrieve deleted data, divine “future plan[s],” and “Identify known associates and establish communication patterns between them.”
Berla founder Ben LeMere remarked, “People rent cars and go do things with them and don’t even think about the places they are going and what the car records.” In a 2015 appearance on the podcast “The Forensic Lunch,” LeMere told the show’s hosts how the company uses exactly this accidental-transfer scenario in its trainings: “Your phone died, you’re gonna get in the car, plug it in, and there’s going to be this nice convenient USB port for you. When you plug it into this USB port, it’s going to charge your phone, absolutely. And as soon as it powers up, it’s going to start sucking all your data down into the car.” More…