Cell carriers: 1.3 million surveillance demands from police in 2011


Cellphone carriers released the first tally of law enforcement demands for text messages, caller locations, and other user info: 1.3 million requests in 2011.

The details, requested by a Congressional inquiry (The New York Times), reflect the highest total in all the years of law enforcement demands. Representative Edward J. Markey (D, MA) supplied the NYT with the information, saying, "I never expected it to be this massive." Cases generating requests ran from street crimes to high-level intelligence cases.

Privacy and legal safeguards are an afterthought in this area. AT&T reports they respond to an average of more than 700 requests per day, with 230 labeled emergencies that must be honored without subpoenas or court orders. Police defend their actions, pointing out that mobile devices are found at every crime scene, justifying the millions of dollars paid to cell carriers for the information.

Hello, Big Brother

1.3 million requests is absolutely positively ridiculous, and out of control. Since they have gone way too far with this I say we overcorrect to get back on track. A judge signed search warrant for every inquiry and every release of information from the cell companies.

J. on nytimes.com

The assumption of privacy is the height of folly.

atonausar on newser.com

I wonder if in the dark days of the Soviet Union the government spied on its own people to the extent that our government does today.

Daniel on nytimes.com


A lot of people in this country think that ANY request by the police or FBI is appropriate, and that's the scariest of all.

tom on nytimes.com

I wonder how many tools on this site will say "IDC, i have nothing to hide."

MisterPlinkett on newser.com

I wish I could say this is surprising, as disturbing as this piece is. You frogs have no idea how long you've been boiling.

leftheaded on huffingtonpost.com

Bad trends

This trend seems to portend even more intrusiveness in the future.

Tim B on nytimes.com

when the government gets ever more secretive while demanding its citizens surrender their personal privacy it is an obvious sign our government is becoming increasingly despotic.

The Dude67 on huffingtonpost.com

this is the way the world ends

not with a bang but a Twitter

whatsthatsound on huffingtonpost.com

Over $8.3 million of our tax dollars went to AT&T alone in 2011 to process these requests. Charges run around $50 and $75 per hour of carrier time used in responding to surveillance requests.

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