July 11, 2012
Local, state and federal law enforcement authorities made more than 1.3 million demands for cellphone subscriber information last year, in a sign of their growing reliance on technology to aid criminal and emergency investigations.
The reports from carriers came in response to a congressional inquiry seeking to document the surge in surveillance involving data from mobile devices as more and more Americans carry cellphones to talk, text and send messages.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) requested the information from carriers, including records on “cell tower” dumps, in which the carriers provide law enforcement authorities with data on cellphone users near a cell tower during a discrete period of time.
According to the carriers, nine of whom responded to Markey’s inquiry, all requests were made pursuant to a legal warrant or granted because of an emergency situation in which an individual was in imminent danger.