“Cell carriers swamped by police data requests” @ Star Tribune

Posted on July 10, 2012

Eric Lichtbau — July 8, 2012: “WASHINGTON – In the first public accounting of its kind, cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber data last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.

The data, provided in response to a congressional inquiry, document an explosion in cellphone surveillance in the past five years, with wireless carriers turning over records thousands of times a day in response to police emergencies, court orders, law enforcement subpoenas and other requests.

The cellphone carriers’ reports also reveal a sometimes uneasy partnership with law enforcement agencies, with the carriers frequently rejecting demands that they considered legally questionable or unjustified. At least one carrier even referred some inappropriate requests to the FBI.

The information represents the first time data have been collected nationally on the frequency of cell surveillance by law enforcement. The volume of the requests reported by the carriers — which most likely involve several million subscribers — even surprised some officials who have closely followed the growth of cell surveillance………………………………….”

Read more at Star Tribune.