The New York Times was able to track the precise movements of President Donald Trump by combining leaked location data with public information, showing the ease with which a phone’s location data can be turned into a spying tool, potentially compromising national security.
The Times said that it got the data from anonymous whistleblowers concerned about this vulnerability and a lack of regulations, and that it took only minutes to turn a massive anonymized data set — with 50 billion location “pings” from the phones of more than 12 million people in the US related to their movements in 2016 and 2017 — into specific information on Trump.
The Times said that it was able to track Trump using just one of these phones and that it repeated the exercise with phones belonging to people across secure parts of the US government.
The Trump-linked phone is believed to belong to a Secret Service agent in his entourage, The Times said. It pinged at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida before heading to two other golf clubs and then back to Mar-a-Lago.
The locations matched public information on Trump’s activities at the time, The Times said.