Skip to main content

View Diary: NYT Lead: U.S. Law Enforcement Made 1.3 Million+ Surveillance Requests Of Cell Carriers In 2011 (42 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  The story you are posting about? (0+ / 0-)

    I did read it. It does not contain the information I posited about. One sentence implies the opposite of the scenarios I presented:

    For instance, when a police agency asks for a cell tower “dump” for data on subscribers who were near a tower during a certain period of time, it may get back hundreds or even thousands of names.
    If that is a single request - insane. If that is recorded as "thousands of" requests ... I'm just curious about the way requests versus records are counted.
    •  A cell tower "dump"... (0+ / 0-)

      ...is not recorded as "thousands of requests," as the article already informs us (of that).

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:35:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the article says no such thing (0+ / 0-)

        I've now read it three times, carefully, looking explicitly for that information.

        I'm probably wrong - well, I'm not wrong because I'm not saying it is or it isn't, I'm just asking the question - it's probably 1000:1 versus 1:1000.

        It's just that I've worked with databases that consider each data point returned on a search to be a separate "request" - and if you are a third party firm paid to handle requests, which way are you going to count it?

        I'm not trying to raise a CT, I'm just a computer geek with some stats background that is annoyed by articles that aren't clear and (potentially) misuse statistics. Telling me the average per day can be terribly misleading. Telling me the most requests on any one day would have been interesting. Telling me the day of the week most requests happen would have been interesting. State by state break downs, urban vs rural - anything, really. There are so many interesting things to be found in that data I'm sure, that total and daily average are, to me, more annoying than interesting.

        •  Now you're just being belligerent... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wolf10, Garrett

          ...there were 1.3 million+ requests. The article notes that in some instances--i.e.: with regard to some of those 1.3 million requests--they resulted in full cell tower dumps.

          What part of this don't you understand? It's there in plain English. (i.e.: in some instances, a cell-tower dump was initiated for one request.)

          "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

          by bobswern on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:02:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The article says, repeatedly and consistently, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobswern

          that it is about the number of requests, not about the number of records delivered in return. This is crystal clear, and not at all muddy or vague or ambiguous.

          Because of incomplete record-keeping, the total number of law enforcement requests last year was almost certainly much higher than the 1.3 million the carriers reported to Mr. Markey. Also, the total number of people whose customer information was turned over could be several times higher than the number of requests because a single request often involves multiple callers. For instance, when a police agency asks for a cell tower “dump” for data on subscribers who were near a tower during a certain period of time, it may get back hundreds or even thousands of names.
          •  Yes, crystal clear (0+ / 0-)
            AT&T alone now responds to an average of more than 700 requests a day, with about 230 of them regarded as emergencies that do not require the normal court orders and subpoena. That is roughly triple the number it fielded in 2007, the company said.
            According to the actual letter [pdf] that AT&T sent to Markey

            1/ 179 of the 217 (not 230, that number is incorrect) were from confirmed 911 centers, so they were responding to emergency phone calls.

            2/ The emergency responses are what tripled (68 to 217), not the non emergency (274 to 496).

            3/ The 80% increase in non-emergency requests does not account for a 47% increase in subscribers. So that "triple the number" is really a 23% increase on a per capita basis. 23% does NOT constitute an EXPLOSION (as per the NY Times). That is a 4.2% per year annual growth rate when adjusted for an increase in subscribers.

            4/ AT&T's fee structure includes activation fees, daily fees, change fees, etc. It is NOT documented as to what constitutes a "request". They even have a fee ($75/hr) for developing detailed maps of cell site coverage - having nothing to do with individual accounts.

            So, excuse me if I don't agree that the NY Times article is "crystal clear".

            •  Arguing about use of an adjective, "explosion"... (0+ / 0-)

              ...is a typical ploy of a commenter that's on the wrong side of an issue, while attempting to obfuscate the greater truth, which (in this case) is that their argument(s) isn't substantial (in this case, at all).

              Again, in 2011 there were more than 1.3 million requests for surveillance/surveillance-related information made by U.S. law enforcement (and related) authorities, with a substantial portion of those requests circumventing/skirting proper channels, and propriety, in general.

              These are facts...no matter how much you may attempt to trivialize them. Has this practice been going on since well before 2011? Most certainly; no surprise there.

              Is the public aware of the extent of this massive trampling of its privacy? I don't think so.

              "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

              by bobswern on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:39:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  so, I put more statistical analysis into a blog (0+ / 0-)

                comment than the NY Times puts into its entire front page article and you are going to dismiss it all because I commented on their adjective usage? Jolly good!

                I wouldn't categorize 911 call center requests, fully 25% of the number using AT&T as a guide, as "surveillance."

                with a substantial portion of those requests circumventing/skirting proper channels
                Do you have ANY evidence to support this claim? Any? Can you define "substantial portion"? According to AT&T, only 5% of requests were not backed up by either a subpoena, a warrant, or came from a recognized 911 call center. Is that what you mean by "substantial"?

                There were 330 million cell phone subscribers in the US last year. Even if you assumed that all of the 1.3 million requests were for a different subscriber, that's only 0.4% of all subscribers.

                But anyway - it's a poorly written, vaguely sensationalist article that distorts the facts as given by the wireless carriers. You can rant at me all you want but it isn't going to change that. I've worked for years on privacy concerns and internet security. I'm a certified security professional. There are some seriously major issues out there. This article does an extremely poor job of describing one of the minor ones.

                Have a nice day!

                •  I just concluded a tech security consulting gig... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BradyB

                  ...for a Russell 2000 (Index) firm. I also own a software business that, among a few other things, specializes in automated underwriting and credit analytics. Neither of these facts are all that relevant (vaguely/tangentially, at best)  to the matters discussed herein, frankly. As far as stats go, I would suggest that you take a look at the chart/graph that accompanies the NYT article (in the original piece). It CLEARLY (and graphically) demonstrates a statistical "explosion" in cell-tracking/surveillance over the past few years.

                  I will say, somewhat contradicting my words at the beginning of this comment, that I've personally witnessed law enforcement utilizing the Patriot Act to implement surveillance (both Internet and cellphone) on at least one individual for what was little more than a very low-grade felony (in the private sector), or, more likely, a higher-level petty crime. And, it was made abundantly clear to me at the time that this was standard operating procedure in local law enforcement (pretty much throughout the land; and it had nothing, whatsoever, to do with national security). This episode occurred at the beginning of 2011, I might add.

                  "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

                  by bobswern on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:37:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site