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Is that the current party line?

An app authored by a Chinese company that enables people to make short, corny videos could be surreptitiously collecting kompromat on American citizens for use in future geo-political extortion plots? That's the fear?

Got it. Then how about this story from the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Government Contractor Embedded Software in Apps to Track Phones

Anomaly Six LLC a Virginia-based company founded by two U.S. military veterans with a background in intelligence, said in marketing material it is able to draw location data from more than 500 mobile applications, in part through its own software development kit, or SDK, that is embedded directly in some of the apps. An SDK allows the company to obtain the phone’s location if consumers have allowed the app containing the software to access the phone’s GPS coordinates.


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.

It's worth parsing this entire story very carefully.

This firm writes libraries of software routines (often called SDKs or Service Development Kits in the industry) that collect GPS location data when the parent application using the library gains YOUR permission as a user to use GPS within the application. The application itself might have some obvious, useful benefit to provide to you based on your location like finding nearby restaurants, etc. However, it is highly unlikely any of these apps disclosed to their user that location data used WITHIN the app to DELIVER the app's functionality was ALSO going to be shared externally. It is possible or even likely that many application developers may have included this SDK library in their code without really knowing where the data was going to go or how it was going to be used.

As the WSJ story indicates, this firm was formed by career intelligence types explicitly to cater to current intelligence community needs. While the Federal Government may be technically prohibited from collecting data itself directly from user devices or their carrier network, there are no legal barriers to private companies collecting the data then choosing to SELL it to the government. See how that's different?

Trump's only real complaints about TikTok are that its most popular content provider is making fun of him and that the US government possibly hasn't managed to get illicit spyware like that from Anomaly Six LLC baked into equally popular mobile apps...

At least as far as we're ever going to know...

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