07-10-2012, 04:23 PM
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Mobile Phone Surveillance Out of Control: Cops Collected 1.3 Million Customer Records
Privacy and Security Fanatic: Mobile Phone Surveillance Out of Control: Cops Collected 1.3 Million Customer Records
Letters to mobile carriers reagrding use of cell phone tracking by law enforcement | Congressman Ed Markey, Massachusetts 7th District
Federal, state, and local law enforcement requested about
1.3 million cellphone records from wireless carriers in 2011 . . . and
that doesn't count T-Mobile since the company failed to give
numbers. "I never expected it to be this massive," said Rep.
Edward Markey about the mobile surveillance numbers after he and Rep.
Joe Barton sent letters to mobile carriers asking about cellphone
tracking by law enforcement. What's being hovered up by the law? To
name but a few: text messages, geo-location tracking information,
wiretaps and "cell tower dumps," which provide all mobile phone
numbers that connected with the tower during a specific time period.
Responses are in from AT&T, C Spire, Leap and Cricket, MetroPCS,
Sprint, T-Mobile, Tracfone, U.S. Cellular and Verizon; it is the first
time cellphone carriers have reported on the staggering surveillance
"Everyone whose phone has been used by a particular cell tower over a
particular time period - likely hundreds or thousands of people -
could have their data examined by investigators. And these dragnet
data requests are on the rise," the ACLU said. "The numbers don't lie:
location tracking is out of control."
To handle these extensive levels of surveillance that often violate
Americans' privacy, the ACLU points at the mobile carrier letters,
which state, "AT&T has more than 100 full-time employees assigned just
to handle law enforcement requests, Verizon has 70, and Sprint has a
whopping 226. That's a lot of people power devoted solely to
Is AT&T your mobile carrier? The company admitted [PDF] to an average
of over 700 requests daily and about 230 were "regarded as emergencies
that do not require the normal court orders and subpoena." In 2011,
AT&T received about 260,400 requests for customer information: 131,400
criminal subpoenas, 49,700 orders/warrants, 65,500 exigent (urgent)
PSAP requests, and 13,800 non-PSAP exigent requests. It rejected 965
surveillance orders. The company wants to "keep these numbers in
perspective," and added that "AT&T serves over 103,200,000 wireless
customers." Additionally, it "has not encountered any misuse of
cellphone tracking by police departments."
"We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the
sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent
consumers," said Rep. Markey, senior member of the Energy and Commerce
Committee and co-Chair of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy
Caucus. "Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what
are they doing with the haystack? We need to know how law enforcement
differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are
subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers, and
disposes of this information."
1.3 million cellphone records in 2011...
without a warrant, from just AT&T.
At least most of them appear to have been with a warrant. *However, I
think the processing of those warrants should have review / scrutiny
(especially considering the volume)
"Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value."