Cell Phone Surveillance Surges

Carriers got more than 1.3M demands for info last year

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 8, 2012 11:20 PM CDT | Updated Jul 9, 2012 4:00 AM CDT
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email

(Newser) – Cell phone surveillance has exploded over the last five years, and carriers received more than 1.3 million demands for information from law enforcement last year, a Congressional report reveals. The carriers are dealing with thousands of requests a day from all levels of law enforcement, but some legally questionable demands are rejected, the New York Times reports. One carrier referred some unjustified requests for subscriber information to the FBI. The carriers, who are reimbursed for their costs, employ large teams of in-house experts to deal with the constant stream of requests.

Officials say cell surveillance is a very important tool in modern law enforcement, since "at every crime scene, there’s some type of mobile device," but the ACLU warns that legal procedures are often ignored, and that some agencies are gathering data on people with no real connection to crimes. "The standards really are all over the place," an ACLU lawyer says. "Nobody is saying don’t use these tools. What we’re saying is do it with consistent standards and in a way that recognizes that these are tools that really can impact people’s privacy."

Law enforcement demands for cell phone data have tripled since 2007.
Law enforcement demands for cell phone data have tripled since 2007.   (Getty Images)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
SHARE YOUR TAKE: Twitter Facebook
Check out another Scary story: Putin to Turkey: Downing Jet Was 'Stab in Back'
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.