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News Link • Surveillance

Report: Police spying on more cell phones than ever

•, Stephen C. Webster

U.S. law enforcement agencies are tracking more cellular devices than ever these days but obtaining fewer wiretapping warrants, according to a report by Eric Lichtblau, published in Sunday’s New York Times.

That’s thanks in part to a proliferation in location-based technologies and flexible communications providers that turn over information based on police claims of an ongoing “emergency.” Comparing numbers from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to figures shared by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the Times found that law enforcement requests to track devices come fast and furious every single day for the major mobile carriers, but very few included court approval.

The exact number of mobile devices spied upon since 2007 is not yet known, mostly because a single request can often involve multiple callers or whole areas on the map, potentially revealing thousands of peoples’ locations at once. But Rep. Markey, who chairs the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, asked carriers to look into the matter, discovering that mobile phone tracking requests are at an all-time-high and still growing.

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