Markey Expands Investigation of Law Enforcement Requests for Mobile Phone Information from Wireless Carriers

Lawmaker's firstever accounting last year revealed 1.3 million personal data requests in 2011 from law enforcement agencies

 

Washington (September 12, 2013) - Continuing his investigation into requests by law enforcement for mobile phone information, today Senator Edward J. Markey (DMass.) sent letters to eight major wireless carriers asking each to account for the number of requests it received in 2012 from law enforcement agencies for personal mobile phone information. Last year, Senator Markey's investigation, the first of its type by a Member of Congress, revealed that wireless carriers received 1.3 million federal, state, and local law enforcement requests for cell phone records in 2011. Sen. Markey's inquiry seeks an updated accounting, as well as a determination of the type of mobile phone data that is being requested by law enforcement and what legal standards law enforcement authorities must meet for each type of information, whether it be by warrant or a lower standard, providing a more detailed picture of what and how data is collected by law enforcement on Americans. Additionally, Senator Markey asks each carrier to document how many requests it receives under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. 

 

"America recently has come to understand just how pervasive collection of mobile phone information is, even of innocent individuals unconnected to illegal activity," said Senator Markey. "While mobile phone data should be accessible for appropriate law enforcement purposes, it is important that protections are in place for innocent Americans. There are legal, constitutional and privacy implications of sharing consumers' mobile telephone information. We need to know what is being collected and the legal authorities by which law enforcement is requesting the records, possibly of innocent people being swept up as part of these digital dragnets. I look forward to receiving the responses from the wireless carriers and continuing this important investigation."

 

Specifically, Senator Markey, who serves on the Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, is requesting each wireless carrier to list the amount of requests each received in 2012 for each type of usage, including but not limited to the following: 1) geolocation of device, 2) call detail records, 3) text message content, 4) voicemail, 5) cell tower dumps, 6) wiretapping, 7) subscriber information, and 8) data requests. Senator Markey is also requesting each carrier to document any compensation received in exchange for providing information to law enforcement.

 

Senator Markey sent letters to U.S. Cellular, Sprint Nextel, TMobile USA Inc., Leap Wireless Inc./ Cricket Communications, Inc., MetroPCS, Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T, and C Spire Wireless. 

 

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Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 2022242742