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Do you own a late-model car with an 'entertainment system' built into it? Do you sync your phone with that system? Read on...



Your Car Is Spying on You, and a CBP Contract Shows the Risks

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.

The contract, shared with The Intercept by Latinx advocacy organization Mijente, shows that CBP paid Swedish data extraction firm MSAB $456,073 for a bundle of hardware including five iVe “vehicle forensics kits” manufactured by Berla, an American company. A related document indicates that CBP believed the kit would be “critical in CBP investigations as it can provide evidence [not only] regarding the vehicle’s use, but also information obtained through mobile devices paired with the infotainment system.” The document went on to say that iVe was the only tool available for purchase that could tap into such systems.


The kit, MSAB says, also has the ability to discover specific events that most car owners are probably unaware are even recorded, like “when and where a vehicle’s lights are turned on, and which doors are opened and closed at specific locations” as well as “gear shifts, odometer reads, ignition cycles, speed logs, and more.” This car-based surveillance, in other words, goes many miles beyond the car itself.

iVe is compatible with over two dozen makes of vehicle and is rapidly expanding its acquisition and decoding capabilities, according to MSAB.

Civil liberties watchdogs said the CBP contract raises concerns that these sorts of extraction tools will be used more broadly to circumvent constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. “The scale at which CBP can leverage a contract like this one is staggering,” said Mohammad Tajsar, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.


The people behind CBP’s new tool are well aware that they are preying on consumer ignorance. In a podcast appearance first reported by NBC News last summer, 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.”


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Subject Views Written By Posted
Another hidden price of convenience 280 Nolondil 14-May-21 00:45
Re: Another hidden price of convenience 124 Merrell 14-May-21 14:40
Re: Another hidden price of convenience 122 Dr. Troglodyte 14-May-21 22:49
Re: Another hidden price of convenience 173 Merrell 15-May-21 12:35

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