WASHINGTON, DC — Police can gain access to your location, your text messages, your conversations, your real-time web browsing activity, and much more.
They contacted cellphone carriers over 1.1 million times last year in order to do so, according to a report released by Edward Markey, a senator.
They often get the data without a warrant depending on the carrier.
For example, AT&T gives them your complete texts and voicemails without a warrant.
This news is making the rounds in mainstream media. But it’s critical to bear the following points in mind.
The 1.1 million figure is an egregious underestimation, since not all of the carriers have reported what they give to law enforcement.
The reports do not include the nearly 9,000 “tower dumps” provided to law enforcement, with each dump containing data on potentially hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Many Americans already know that their cellular and internet activity is comprehensively monitored by federal fusion and spy centers. This data is routinely shared with local law enforcement.
Whistleblowing websites have for years made available big lists of internal “Spy Guides” used by Internet and Cellphone companies.
These spy guides are written by the companies for law enforcement and go into excruciating detail on the protocols for collaboration with law enforcement as well as everything that can be shared.
As you gain a proper perspective on the magnitude of State spying, the senator’s report is seen as a relatively small reiteration.
Wired reported on the NSA’s creation of a new spy center and supercomputer:
“The NSA has a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret.”
One of the purposes of fusion centers, suggested by the term itself, is to share such data with local law enforcement.
Alternet also detailed eight ways that police can spy on you.
Interestingly, the senator’s report reveals that Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile together received $26 million in exchange for compliance with law enforcement requests.
“Our mobile devices quite literally store our most intimate thoughts as well as the details of our personal lives. The idea that police can obtain such a rich treasure trove of data about any one of us without appropriate judicial oversight should send shivers down our spines,” he added.