Brazil Had Secret Program to Track People’s Location Through Their Cell Phones

According to a report by Brazilian media outlet Globo, Brazil’s intelligence agency ABIN used a tool that could snoop on the location and movements of Brazilian citizens. Apparently, this activity took place in the first three years of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s term (2018-2022). 

Ken Macon of Reclaim the Net noted that the tool was called FirstMile and allowed ABIN to track the locations of up to 10,000 phones every 12 months. An Israeli firm Cognyte developed this tool, which ABIN purchased for R$5.7 million (1,081,415.40 USD).

In addition to location tracking, the tool could dispatch “real-time alerts” of a target’s movement at multiple locations.

The tool was so controversial in nature that ABIN agents questioned the use of it, which prompted the launch of an internal review. ABIN purchased the tool in 2018 and was used until mid-2021.

In correspondence with Globo, a senior ABIN official said that the agency justified the tool’s usage due to how it had legal “limbo.”

Macon noted that the Brazilian constitution does not explicitly prohibit access to cell phone metadata. Curiously, ABIN could have said that it was using the tool due to national security concerns and it would have not been in violation of privacy laws.

However, the official mentioned that the problem at hand was how the tool was managed without control and it was impossible to know who had access to it.

Legal experts and privacy advocates have expressed misgivings about the tool’s usage, asserting it was a violation of privacy rights.

Brazil is not exempt from the many abuses of the surveillance state that has fully engulfed the West. There clearly is a Deep State in Brazil that works to undermine the interests of everyday Brazilians. And just like the American version of it, the Deep State must be thoroughly dismantled for citizens to live free and prosper. 

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