Police requested 1.3 million cell records

July 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- Law enforcement agencies made more than 1.3 million requests for personal cellphone records from wireless carriers last year, a U.S. congressman said Monday.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., released the results of what he called the "first-ever accounting" of how nine U.S. wireless companies deal with requests to share customer information with police and other agencies.

Markey said in a written statement there was a "startling" volume of routine requests that were very broad and were made either under a legal warrant or in the event of an emergency in which someone was believed to be in imminent danger.

Markey said in a written statement the accounting raised the issue of how police treat personal records from wireless customers who were not involved in any wrongdoing. In particular was the practice of requesting "cell tower dumps," in which police sought the phone numbers of every caller who connected to a particular tower.

"We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers and disposes of this information," Markey said.

Markey, co-chair of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, requested the records after a report in The New York Times that law-enforcement routinely requested cell records with little or no judicial oversight.

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