US police revealed to have spent millions to buy cell phone records from carriers

Here is yet another case pointing to the government’s overarching police power and how far, or how much, it is willing to go to gather intelligence about its citizens. US Senator Edward Markey has disclosed that, based on figures coming from major US carriers themselves, law enforcers have spent more than $26 million last year to buy information from these telecommunications companies.

The numbers alone should worry anyone. The government was able to acquire information on an estimated 1.1 million mobile network customers. That’s not including the dumps from 9,000 cell towers that would have given law enforcers access to every logged number within a base station’s range. Moreover, the carriers financially benefited from this information gathering spree. T-Mobile was reported to have gained $11 million, AT&T $10,298,000, and Verizon under $5 million.

According to ACLU’s legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese, the problem is that current legislation has not yet evolved to include protection of mobile devices and the information stored within them. This has made these devices, which, more often than not, contain a great deal of personal information, ripe for the picking. It is also worrying that telcos are almost too helpful in providing such information to the government. All they need to see, in some cases, is a warrant, whether justified or not.

There is a need, therefore, for laws to be yanked into the present age to take into account current information technology trends and advancements. Senator Markey, who is calling for a sort of 4th amendment for the 21st century, is planning to push for legislation that will not only protect citizens’ information but will also set a standard for their retention and disposal.

VIA: The Register

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