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cell tower is seen from a neighborhood in North Andover, Mass. Photo: Elise Amendola / AP

The Department of Homeland Security used cell phone-tracking devices across the U.S. 1,885 times between 2013 and 2017, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed.

Why it matters: The technology has been criticized by the ACLU for invading the privacy of people in the area not under investigation, as it can collect data from their phones as well, BuzzFeed reports.

How it works: Homeland Security Investigations used "cell-site simulator over-the-air technology," which acts as a cell phone tower, making phones in the area connect to them. It can be used to track down a suspect if authorities already have their phone information.

In a 2015 policy, the DHS said law enforcement agencies had to receive a warrant before using the cell-site simulators, and required them to delete data immediately after a mission.But, how law enforcement uses the devices, "including how often and under what circumstances," is still unclear, per BuzzFeed.

Go deeper

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

2021 sees a record number of bills targeting trans youth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced over 60 bills targeting transgender children — a legislative boom since January that has beaten 2020's total number of anti-trans bills.

Why it matters: LGBTQ advocates say the unprecedented push was catalyzed by backlash to Biden's election and the Supreme Court ruling that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender.