Ever wonder if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to information on your cellphone?
Well, according to data compiled by Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests were made last year for data from cellphone companies. Usually, the police were looking for things like text messages, location data, call logs and “cell tower dumps” (wireless carriers provide police with all of the phone numbers that connected to a particular cell tower in a period of time).
“We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers,” Markey said in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack? We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers, and disposes of this information.”
The carriers reported that these requests have increased dramatically in recent years. This is likely because the mobile devices have become increasingly equipped with technology that allows them to log location data.
“Whether they realize it or not, Americans are carrying tracking devices with them wherever they go. Today’s new information makes it clear that law enforcement has carte blanche to follow the trail they leave behind,” Christopher Calabrese, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.