One point three million E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. made more than 1.3 million requests for cellphone records in 2011, according to carriers' responses to Congressional representative to Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) letters. The requests include those seeking location data and the contents of text messages as well as wiretaps.

Markey wrote to carriers in May to ask them about what law enforcement had sought from them. Some agencies also requested "cell tower dumps" which would give them every phone number of all mobile subscribers who connected to a certain cell tower during a particular time.

Markey said he wrote to the telecoms after a New York Times article earlier this year noted that law enforcement was making routine data requests, sometimes with little or no oversight by courts.

Markey proposed a bill that would force carriers to tell consumers about any tracking or monitoring software installed in their cellphones.

The major cell phone carriers, unlike the smaller outfits, say they have dedicated specific personnel to handling law enforcement requests for user data on a full-time basis.

The companies are then usually reimbursed by law enforcement for that work.

AT&T, for example, said it had about 100 employees working full time on fielding requests from law enforcement.

Hopefully those employees don’t get paid that much — it seems like a a bad time for law enforcement agencies to be shelling out pay checks to specialized employees at Verizon and AT&T.


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