What are cellphone networks blabbing about you to the Feds? A US senator wants to know

Snooping on calls? Stalking people in the streets? Surely some mistake

US Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) wants America's mobile networks to reveal the types of customer information they share with Uncle Sam.

The carriers publish "transparency" reports detailing how many demands for sensitive information they receive from the governments, and how many they comply with – but this is not enough for Markey.

The member of the Senate committee of Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, among others, wants carriers to spill the beans on what sort of records are disclosed, how this data is collected by the cops and Feds, and more details on the use of false phone towers to keep tabs on citizens. The senator is worried innocent people are being stalked by their cellphone networks, and so has written to the carriers this week demanding answers.

Markey has been probing the telcos for two years, but only expanded the inquiry after the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the collection of phone data was allowed without so much as a warrant.

"Mobile phone data can be an important tool in law enforcement efforts to protect Americans, but we cannot allow the pervasive collection of this information, especially of innocent Americans," Markey said on Thursday.

"As mobile phones have become 21st century wallets, personal assistants, and navigation devices – tracking each click we make and step we take – we need to know what information is being shared with law enforcement. I look forward to receiving the responses from the wireless carriers and continuing this important investigation."

Among the companies Markey has requested details from are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile US, and US Cellular. The senator is asking for data collected by law enforcement agencies in 2013 and 2014. He is also asking carriers to disclose when they first handed over encryption keys to government agencies, allowing the g-men to decrypt subscribers' private phone calls. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022