Cell Phone Surveillance

In a recently released report, cell phone carriers say they respond to thousands of police requests per day asking for customer locations, text messages, and call details often times without warrants. Such requests totaled 1.3 million in 2011 – an alarming surge over 2010. Cell phone carriers have set up special legal teams to field law enforcement requests, in a time when laws governing such request are vague. AT&T created a team of over 100 workers to deal with the more than 250,000 subpeonas last year. Sprint reports receiving about half a million subpoenas last year. Verizon and T-Mobile report a 12 percent increase over 2011. Dealing with subpoenas has gotten so costly for carriers that they have begun charging law enforcement agencies for each record they turn over. AT&T collected nearly $8.3 million in fees last year. The revealing report was generated in response to a request from Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey.

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