U.S. government agencies have spent record amounts of money on car forensics technologies in recent years, cybersecurity researchers told Forbes this week.
Government contract records reviewed by Forbes shows that last August, Customs and Border Protection spent more than $380,000 on iVe, a tool made by Berla that allows a user to obtain data from vehicles designed for law enforcement and the military, more than eight times the amount the agency spent on the technology in 2020, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement spent $500,000 on iVe last September.
Moves like this have raised concerns among privacy advocates. The group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project said in a report released in October: "Cars collect much more detailed data than our cellphones, but they receive fewer legal and technological protections."
Eleni Manis, the organization's research director, told Forbes that CBP and ICE are "weaponizing car data."
"Berla devices position CBP and ICE to perform sweeping searches of passengers' lives, with easy access to cars' location history and most visited places and to passengers' family and social contacts, their call logs and even their social media feeds," Manis said. "While we don't know how many cars CBP and ICE have hacked, we do know that nearly every new car is vulnerable."
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