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In a lead story by Eric Lichtblau in Monday’s New York Times, headlined: “Wireless Firms Are Flooded by Requests to Aid Surveillance,” we’re learning tonight how, in 2011, “…cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.”

The article continues on to provide extensive details about this incredible trampling by the state of our citizens’ rights to privacy as we learn that the information was received in response to a congressional inquiry by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus.

Markey “…requested the reports from nine carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, in response to an article in April in the New York Times on law enforcement’s expanded use of cell tracking...”

The Massachusetts congressman, whom Lichtblau quotes as stating, “I never expected it [the response] to be this massive,” in turn, made the carriers’ responses available to the New York Times.

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When the referenced April 1st NYT story first appeared I posted a diary titled: “NYT Lead: ACLU Documents Rampant, Warrantless Phone-Tracking By Police Throughout U.S.” Here’s the lead-in from it…

NYT Lead: ACLU Documents Rampant, Warrantless Phone-Tracking By Police Throughout U.S.
bobswern
Daily Kos
April 1st, 2012   6:36AM

Just when you thought you'd heard it all about our "Turnkey Totalitarian State," a truly huge, exclusive lead story in Sunday's New York Times informs us that--according to a report on the results of a concerted effort by no less than 35 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) affiliates and their respective information request filings with over 380 state and local law enforcement organizations throughout the U.S.--scores, and possibly hundreds, of police departments across the country "routinely" and secretly track, more often than not without any court's knowledge, let alone a warrant, the whereabouts of thousands of our citizens. (More about this in a moment.)

Approximately two weeks ago, we learned, via James Bamford's stunning cover story in Wired Magazine, of the details relating to our government's multi-billion-dollar, extremely stealthy effort to build a state-of-the-art data center outside of Salt Lake City. The project's called "Stellar Wind." When it's completed (it’s scheduled for completion sometime next year), it will be able to warehouse, track, cross-reference and apply analytical modelling protocols to virtually every email, phone call and encrypted (or otherwise) database/dataset in the world…

Today’s Times’ piece provides very little information with regard to how many of the 1.3 milliion-plus reported “demands for subscriber information” were actually challenged by the cellphone carriers, with the exception of stats from one of the smaller firms…
C Spire Wireless, a small carrier, estimated that of about 12,500 law enforcement demands it received in the last five years, it rejected 15 percent of them in whole or in part. (Most carriers did not provide figures on rejections.)
I’ve left out many of the more “startling” points of today’s NY Times article in the hope that I’ve piqued your interest enough to click on the link, up above or right HERE, and that you’ll give it a read.

However, I couldn’t resist including one statistic from the article to contrast just how far down the privacy rabbit hole our society’s gone in recent years…

…As cell surveillance increased, warrants for wiretapping by federal and local officials — eavesdropping on conversations — declined 14 percent last year to 2,732, according to a recent report from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts

Hmmm…only 2,732 wiretapping warrants in 2011. A “whopping” 14 percent decrease when compared with 2010.  Not too comforting when one learns that well over 1.3 million demands were made by law enforcement (a large portion of which were requested outside of proper channels) for cell-tracking information, including “…seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.”

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