Surveillance of Cellphone Records, Necessary or a Violation of Privacy?
Cellphone carriers report that they get thousands of official requests from law enforcement every day for subscriber records, such as text messages, caller locations, etc.
This week, the New York Times reported that law enforcement agencies have placed a high demand on cell phone carriers in regards to providing information on subscribers’ text messages, caller locations and other investigative requirements. In fact, cell phone service providers responded to 1.3 million demands from law enforcement agencies just last year. The carriers' report, which was in response to a Congressional inquiry, showed that carriers turn over thousands of records a day in response to police emergencies, court orders and law enforcement subpoenas.
The magnitude of the requests shocked even those in Congress making the inquiry and gave rise to some questions about just how intrusive the policy is. Some carriers objected to the requests and refused when the felt they could. One carrier even called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation when it was felt that a request was inappropriate.
Law enforcement agencies claim the location data provided by GPS technology in phones is a powerful law enforcement tool. The carriers, however, are worried that handing over this information crosses the line and violates privacy issues.
What do you think? Does the value to law enforcement outweigh concerns that carriers have compromising the privacy of their subscribers?