Saturday, March 14, 2009

No Warrant Required: Feds Submit 20k Phone Location Requests Per Year

Chris Soghoian writes on Slight Paranoia:

Last week, the Berkman Center hosted Al Gidari, a partner at Perkins Coie, who frequently represents some of the major telecom companies as well as a few household names in the Web 2.0 world. Most famously, he represented Google, and helped to fight off the Department of Justice's request for search logs.

I was super happy to have helped to bring Al to Berkman. He is one of the most knowledgeable people out there on the obscure and shadowy world of surveillance law.

Perhaps the most interesting gem for me was Al's mention that the wireless carriers each receive about 100 requests per week from law enforcement for the location information on consumers. Most importantly, one request can be for "every person using this particular cell tower in a 10 minute span" -- and thus, can apply to hundreds or thousands of people.

100 requests per week * 4 wireless carriers (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) * 52 weeks = 20,800 requests per year, none of which require a warrant or judicial oversight. Scary.

More here.