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Police Have Asked for 1.3 Million Cellphone Users’ Records

Police Have Asked for 1.3 Million Cellphone Users' Records


Police across the United States asked cellphone providers for the phone records, text message transcripts, location data and other information of at least 1.3 million customers during 2011, according to a Congressman investigating the practice.

Some of the data provided to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the lawmaker who carried out the investigation, indicated that the number of police requests to mobile carriers have exploded over the past five years. Law enforcement requests to AT&T alone more than doubled from 125,425 in 2007 to 261,365 in 2011 — approximately 700 requests every day.

One type of law enforcement request, wherein police ask cell providers for a so-called “dump” of information about subscribers near a certain cell tower at a given point in time, may mean that thousands more people have been involved in police requests.

Markey called the results of his investigation — the most thorough inquiry into the practice thus far — “startling.”

“We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers,” said Markey in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack? 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 initially requested the information in May after reading about the practice. Nine carriers have returned letters detailing each company’s procedures when police request users’ information.

Verizon Wireless, for instance, has a “team of trained employees and managers” that responded to more than 700 police requests each day in 2011. The company noted that it requires a warrant from police in all but the most extreme circumstances.

“Unless a customer consents to the release of the information or law enforcement certifies that there is an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury, we do not release location information to law enforcement without a signed warrant or order from a judge,” reads Verizon’s letter, which also stressed that the company prioritizes customer privacy.

Other carriers also said they require a warrant in most cases and sometimes deny requests in the interest of customer privacy. Sprint, for example, detailed a sort of investigative Pong process in which some requests bounced between the company and police while escalating up the chain of command on either side.

About 88% of American adults now own a cell phone, while 46% of them own a smartphone. Both types of devices are capable of storing an immense amount of data that can be useful to police investigations.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the report an indication of a “privacy disaster” in a blog post on Monday. The EFF urged cell phone providers to follow the example set by Google and Twitter, both of which deliver transparency reports about police and government requests for users’ data.

Should cellphone providers publish reports about police requests for users’ information? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, anouchka

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Ferguson Police Ask Demonstrators Not To Protest After Dark

Ferguson Police Ask Demonstrators Not To Protest After Dark

Police Chief Thomas Jackson said he is not imposing a curfew, but “it is better for peaceful demonstrations to occur during the daylight.” Nightly protests have been held in response to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The department still is not releasing the name of the officer who shot the unarmed teenager. BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { if (BF_STATIC.bf_test_mode) localStorage.setItem(‘posted_date’, 1407949589); }); BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { document.getElementById(“update_posted_time_3416877”).innerHTML = “posted on ” + UI.dateFormat.get_formatted_date(1407949589); });

1. Updated — 6:07 p.m. ET

2. The Ferguson, Mo., police department called for an end to the nightly demonstrations that have taken place since an officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.

The Ferguson, Mo., police department called for an end to the nightly demonstrations that have taken place since an officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.

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Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

A protester raises his hands in front of of a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday night.

Ferguson police suggested in a statement that the decision to ban the protests after dark was due to violence by the demonstrators:

“We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized respectful manner. We further ask all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our community. Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days during the evening hours. These events are not indicative of the City of Ferguson and its residents.”

The statement put out Wednesday from the Ferguson Police Department was the first official release by the department since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed Saturday — more than 90 hours ago.

Later on Wednesday, during a news conference, Police Chief Thomas Jackson said police were not imposing a curfew.

“There are some people that come out and after dark it does get a little dangerous,” Jackson said. “We think it is better for peaceful demonstrations to occur during the daylight.”

Jackson also defended his department’s response to the nightly protests. Some demonstrators were hit with tear gas and rubber bullets were fired on Monday night.

During the news conference, Missouri State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal asked the chief, “Do you know if I’m going to gassed again, like I was Monday night?”

“I hope not,” Jackson replied.

Jackson reiterated Wednesday that he would not release the name of the officer who allegedly shot Brown, citing safety concerns. The decision not to release the name was slammed by attorney Ben Crump, lawyer for the Brown family.

Jackson said the officer and Brown had a violent confrontation prior to the shooting and the officer was hit in the face. Family and friends of Brown have disputed the police account.

Jackson said the department is trying to soothe tensions in Ferguson. “Apparently, there’s been this undertow that now has bubbled to the surface, and it’s our first priority to address it, to fix what’s wrong,” he said.

The FBI is conducting an inquiry into the shooting and St. Louis County Police is investigating the case.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said Wednesday the case is in the “information-gathering stage” and asked people with evidence to come forward.

4. Read the Ferguson Police Department’s full statement:

Read the Ferguson Police Department's full statement:

View this image ›

Ferguson Police Department

5. A man was reportedly shot by police during the third straight night of unrest and is in critical condition.

A man was reportedly shot by police during the third straight night of unrest and is in critical condition.

View this image ›

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters


Images Of Ferguson Police In Riot Gear Confronting An Unarmed Man Go Viral


32 Powerful Images From Ferguson After The Death Of Michael Brown

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The 10 Most Misheard Song Lyrics Of All Time Leads The Daily Links

The 10 Most Misheard Song Lyrics Of All Time Leads The Daily Links

Plus the NYPD thought they were your friends and are disappointed you don’t remember the good times, the 10 best drugstore lipsticks, and deleted scenes that would have totally changed 6 awesome movies. UPROXX

The 10 most misheard song lyrics of all time. (Hint: No one is kicking the dancing queen—why would that be a thing?) – [UPROXX]

@OccupyWallStNYC / Via Twitter: @OccupyWallStNYC

Ooopsies!! The NYPD only wanted pics of the good times you’ve had with them, you guys. – [Salon]


HBO is making (some) shows available for streaming through Amazon! Cable-free households rejoice! – [Re/code]


The 10 best drugstore lipsticks—look like a million bucks for under $10! – [Redbook]


Deleted scenes that totally change 6 great movies. So many lingering questions would have been answered! – [Cracked]


These pics prove two things: The Obamas were as adorable as ever at the White House Easter Egg Roll, and no matter who you are, you will not be able to find a giant Easter Bunny that isn’t super creepy. – [BET]

Sports Illustrated

The Pacers’ Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner reportedly got in a fistfight at practice. Play nice, guys! At least with your teammates. – [Sports Illustrated]


Three new breakthroughs for removing your polish—INCLUDING GLITTER-REMOVING SECRETS. – [VOGUE]

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Policeman Dancing At Street Party

Policeman Dancing At Street Party

Police are famous on the Internet for shooting dogs, arresting people who film them, and police brutality in general. It’s nice to see something positive for a change. Here, a British policeman watching over a street dance party gets in the mood and drops some dance moves. He even dances with some girls. The scene took place at the Notting Hill Carnival 2011 in London. The story is covered by YahooNewsUK.


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