Congressman releases first-ever accounting of responses from wireless carriers that indicate sweeping personal data requests from law enforcement agencies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the first-ever accounting of its kind, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) has found that in 2011, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies made more than 1.3 million requests of wireless carriers for the cell phone records of consumers, and that number is increasing every year. Last month, Rep. Markey queried nine mobile wireless carriers about their policies and practices for sharing their customers’ mobile phone information with law enforcement agencies after a report in the New York Times reported that law enforcement was routinely requesting consumers cell phone records, sometimes with little judicial oversight and no consumer knowledge. The responses received by Rep. Markey were startling in the volume and scope of requests made by law enforcement, including requests for “cell tower dumps” in which carriers provide all the phones numbers of cell users that connect with a tower during a discreet period of time, including information on innocent people. According to the carriers, all requests were made pursuant to a legal warrant or granted due to an emergency situation in which an individual was in imminent danger.
“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.”
A link to the responses from the carriers can be found HERE.
Other findings from the responses to Rep. Markey include:
Rep. Markey sent letters to U.S. Cellular, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA Inc., Leap Wireless Inc./ Cricket Communications, Inc., MetroPCS, Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T, C Spire Wireless, and TracFone Wireless.