Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is demanding information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about its efforts to track Americans through location data from cell phones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It remains unclear why the CDC tracked millions of Americans during the pandemic and whether it continues to do so. In response to COVID-19, the CDC should have been prioritizing the development of treatments, effective testing, and vaccine safety rather than tracking Americans’ daily lives," Johnson wrote.
The CDC has not responded to requests for comment.
The CDC's potential uses for the data, which was purchased from SafeGraph included tracking the patterns of people visiting primary schools, examining how curfews and border restrictions curtailed movement, and the effectiveness of policies on the Navajo Nation, according to the documents.
They also showed the CDC planned to use the data for issues not related to COVID-19, such as monitoring “population migration before, during, and after natural disasters.”
A contract approved on April 16, 2021, showed the CDC paid SafeGraph $420,000.
According to its website, SafeGraph is "building a company that is narrowly focused on making data an open platform for all" and holds information including points of interest, spatial hierarchy metadata, foot traffic data, spending patterns, and more.
In order to better understand why the CDC purchased such data and what it planned to do with it, Johnson asked the agency to provide him with answers, including whether its use of location data was the only mechanism employed to monitor Americans during the pandemic, who at the CDC approved the use and purchase of the location data, and the names of the companies that supply the agency with location data.
The senator also asked the CDC to provide details regarding the dates such companies began providing the data and how much it cost.
Finally, he asked that they provide records of its business with SafeGraph and other location data companies and copies of CDC studies or reports that relied on the location data it received.
"Did CDC share location data with other federal, state, and local agencies?" he added. "If so, provide what entities received the data and explain why."
Johnson, who serves as a ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, asked that the agency present the information and requested documents by May 19.
The Epoch Times has filed FOIA requests for information regarding the CDC's proposed and actual uses of the SafeGraph data, as well as details on its contracts with a similar company called Cubeiq.