Police demanding more and more cell phone data

Local, state and federal law enforcement have all spiked the number of data requests to phone companies

Published December 9, 2013 3:10PM (EST)

Last year saw a spike across local, state and federal law enforcement requests for cellphone user data. As the ACLU reported Monday, last year alone, AT&T and T-Mobile documented 600,000 requests for customer information made by law enforcement. Verizon said that police requests for customers’ call records have approximately doubled over the last five years. Often, no warrant is required to compel cellphone carriers to turn over their customers’ information to police.

Cellphone companies offered this information in response to inquiries from Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. Markey's inquiry also showed that police regularly follow phone users' Web browsing in real-time.

“Have no doubt, police see our mobile devices as the go-to source for information, likely in part because of the lack of privacy protections afforded by the law,” said Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “Our mobile devices quite literally store our most intimate thoughts as well as the details of our personal lives. The idea that police can obtain such a rich treasure trove of data about any one of us without appropriate judicial oversight should send shivers down our spines.”

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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At&t Cell Phone Data Edward Markey Law Enforcement Police Surveillance Verizon