Investigation revealed more than 1 million personal data requests each year in 2011 and 2012 from local and state law enforcement agencies
Washington (May 21, 2015) – With the U.S. Senate debating the end of the government practice of bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) continued his investigation into requests made by law enforcement for mobile phone information with letters to the seven major wireless carriers. In the letters, Senator Markey asks each wireless carrier to account for the number of requests it received in 2013 and 2014 from law enforcement agencies for personal mobile phone information of Americans. Senator 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 different standard, providing a more detailed picture of what and how data is collected by law enforcement on Americans.
“America is in the middle of an historic national debate about the legal, constitutional and privacy implications of the mass collection of our telephone information,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Mobile phone data can be an important tool in law enforcement efforts to protect Americans, but we cannot allow the pervasive collection of this information, especially of innocent Americans. As mobile phones have become 21st century wallets, personal assistants, and navigation devices – tracking each click we make and step we take -- we need to know what information is being shared with law enforcement. I look forward to receiving the responses from the wireless carriers and continuing this important investigation.”
This year, Senator Markey expanded his investigation to seek additional information about tracking equipment after The Wall Street Journal recently reported that federal and local law enforcement do not obtain warrants in some instances before using the devices. The tracking equipment mimics the operations of cell phone towers in an effort to intercept the mobile phone information of Americans. The Senator is also asking wireless carriers for the first time if they receive requests for encryption keys, which would enable law enforcement to decrypt customer communications.
For the past two years, Senator Markey’s investigation into law enforcement requests of mobile phone data revealed expanded use of wireless surveillance of Americans, including more than one million requests for the personal mobile phone data of Americans in 2012 by law enforcement. Senator Markey began his investigation in 2012, revealing 1.3 million requests in 2011 for wireless data by federal, state, and local law enforcement. As a result of Senator Markey’s investigation, Verizon and AT&T now release transparency reports on the number of government requests for mobile phone data the companies receive.