Law enforcement is engaging in their own phone company bailouts by paying these companies thousands of dollars a year for every phone number they track. I'm not really sure how these phone companies managed to
extort justify this largess for doing this. I'm sure paying lobbyists to keep any politicians from complaining has something to do with it.
If Americans aren’t disturbed by phone carriers’ practices of handing over cell phone users’ personal data to law enforcement en masse–in many cases without a warrant–we might at least be interested to learn just how much that service is costing us in tax dollars: often hundreds or thousands per individual snooped...
...But at least one document also details the day-to-day business of telecoms’ handing over of data to law enforcement, including a breakdown of every major carrier’s fees for every sort of data request from targeted wiretaps to so-called “tower dumps” that provide information on every user of certain cell tower. The guide, as provided by the Tucson, Arizona police department to the ACLU, is dated July 2009, and the fees it lists may be somewhat outdated. But representatives I reached by email at Sprint and AT&T both declined to detail any changes to the numbers.
It appears money is no object if the taxpayer is paying for it and they have no way of curbing abuse.
Even if you are not a target of a law enforcement warrant your information may be now in the hands of the police based on the fact that some police agencies get all the phone numbers that a certain tower handles.
So even if you had no reason to be part of a police phone number data base you just might have been caught up in their broad net.
V. Law enforcement agents can and do get the cell phone numbers of all individuals located at a particularlocation at a particular time.Do you feel safer yet?
Records from Tucson, AZ explain how law enforcement agents should go about obtaining this information. For example, the documents show that T-Mobile charges $150 for one hours’ worth of data about what phones were near one particular tower. (B87-89) The documents show that Verizon Wireless charges $30-$60 for 15 minutes’
worth of tower data. (B87-89).
The Delaware Department of Justice seeks this type of information on behalf of Delaware law enforcement agencies (B2753).
Cary, NC (B504-505) made a request for all phones that utilized particular towers.
Guilford County, NC (B2935-2936) provided us with an invoice demonstrating searching for historical data about a particular tower.
Raleigh, NC (B921, 923) provided us with two invoices listing a “Historic Tower Search.”
Randolph, NC (B1446-1454) disclosed two separate search warrant applications for all telephone numbers transmitted from particular towers.
VI. Cell phone companies keep Americans’ location data for a very long time—but do not disclose this in their privacy policies.
U.S. Department of Justice, “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers,” Aug. 2010, supplied by Orange County, NC (B860). According to the Justice Department, Verizon keeps location records for “1 rolling year.”
T-Mobile keeps them for “officially 4-6 months, but really a year or more.”
Sprint keeps these records for 18-24
AT&T retains location data “since July 2008.”
However, this information is not available in the cell phone companies’ privacy policies.
Note: The ACLU released this document to the public in September 2011: http://www.aclu.org/....
In addition to the Justice Department document, there are other documents, cataloged below, that also contain retention information. Sometimes the information
conflicts with what is in the Justice Department document.