Jul 14, 2012

Cell Phone Corporations Help Government and Law Enforcement Spy On You

By Susanne Posel
Your wireless company is tracking you with GPS, recording your phone calls and text messages . . . and they are selling the information they collect to other corporations, nations, governments – anyone willing to pay for the data.
The US government is one of the wireless corporation’s biggest clients. They are collecting yotabytes of data from multiple sources on all American citizens.
Congressman Ed Markey complied a report wherein information from numerous cell phone corporations that showed just how much data law enforcement receives from prominent cell phone carriers.
AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile were requested to hand over personal client data to federal agencies and local law enforcement at an alarming rate.
  • 1.3 million = total number of law enforcement requests for “text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.”
  • 116 = average number of requests the tiny Cricket fields each day.
  • 700 = average number of requests AT&T fields each day.
  • 1,500 = average number of requests Sprint fields each day.
  • $8.3 million = the total amount in bills that AT&T sent to law enforcement and government agencies to comply with their requests. (That was up from $2.8 million in 2007.)
Sprint, catering to the illegal data mining of government agencies, has also made their job easier by providing an automated web interface specifically designed for law enforcement which allowed them to retrieve more public information than from any other cellular phone carrier.
The Obama administration is attempting to force Congressional law to rewrite cellular phone privacy rights .
In United States v. Jones Americans have protection under the US Constitution against GPS surveillance by local law enforcement and federal agencies under the 4th Amendment.
Because of the information that can be obtained from GPS technology and cellular phone devices, a search warrant was an absolute requirement.
Law enforcement would typically make a request for multiple forms of data from one particular person under the guise of hunting down a bank robber or serial killer; however these claims were more often than not erroneous and simply a formality to justify the data mining.

Text messages are like gold to the federal and local agencies retrieving information on citizens because it is cheaper for them to obtain from the cellular phone corporations. As the rise in requests continues the requests for legal wiretapping decreases .
Simply put: why jump through legal hoops to get information when the corporations readily give it to law enforcement at the expense of the privacy of their clients.
While the US Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before tagging a car with a GPS tracker, the cellular phone laws are still murky and up to interpretation.
In the UK, the UK Home Office (UKHO) have admitted they are spying on their citizens in an expansion of MI5 data surveillance laws.
In a proposed bill, if passed would place massive amounts of personal data into the hands of the British government. How they use that data is purely at their discretion.
Internet companies will have to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the Government’s electronic “listening” agency – to examine “on demand” any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed in “real time.
Smartphones and social media can also be used to engage otherwise unknown material about whomever the authorities want to survey. All of this data is conveniently stored on most modern cell phones.
Cellphones are our most beloved technology. Everyone has one and could not live without it. And those who are in government and law enforcement have turned them into spying devices because it is just too easy.
We pay for the phone. We pay for the service. And it has been turned into a Big Brother control that strips us of our privacy.