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Not Shocking: Carriers Handing Over Oceans of User Data
Government Surveillance Requests Explode, Don't Match Government Numbers
by Karl Bode 12:27PM Tuesday Jul 10 2012 Tipped by fatness See Profile
Congressman Ed Markey has long been fighting the unaccountable and warrant-optional nature of modern domestic surveillance here in the United States. Market this week published the results of his letter writing campaign to carriers asking them how many times they hand over user information to the government, and under what circumstances those requests are made. The results show that roughly 1.3 million requests for user data were made last year alone, with Sprint topping the list at 500,000 subpoenas for data and 325,982 court orders for wiretaps or location data over the last five years. From Sprint's response (pdf) and their breakdown of the data:
quote:
Over the past five years, Sprint has received approximately 52,029 court orders for wiretaps; 77,519 court orders for the installation of a pen register/trap and trace device; and 196,434 court orders for location information. [...] Over the same time frame Sprint received subpoenas from law enforcement agencies requesting basic subscriber information. Each subpoena typically requested subscriber information on multiple subscribers and last year alone we estimate that Sprint received approximately 500,000 subpoenas from law enforcement.
Techdirt and a bit of Cato Institute analysis note that Sprint's claims are dramatically larger than what the government's numbers documented as required under federal law, with Sprint alone reporting 27,759 more wiretaps than the government claims they've requested in total over the past five years. Obviously that means that Sprint has a wonky definition of a wiretap, someone in the government really isn't very good at math and record keeping, or the intelligence community is lying to Congress. Given the history of the NSA/CIA's reaction to attempted accountability, two of those three possibilities are probably true.

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ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

A fourth option

One other possibility is that the government agencies requesting these records simply aren't reporting these requests. If you've got some local cop somewhere wanting to know who his wife is talking to, he could always fill out a request to get that info, but, wonder of wonders, the paperwork on his end might mysteriously disappear.

The thing about going on fishing expeditions is that you try not to keep a paper trail about it. And if someone ever brings it up, there'll be some vague response about an investigation of some crime, but it never really went anywhere.

If anyone wants to see how a police unit can be used for political purposes, do some research about the allegations against Jackson, Mississippi's mayor Dale Danks back in the '80s. He supposedly pulled the police CID unit from the control of the police chief, had it report directly to him, and used it to spy on political opponents, including members of the City Council.
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
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Are these snoopers on a fishing exhibition?

These privacy invaders need to explain why they are issuing so many surveillance requests and what they are for. The TSA and NSA are abusing citizens privacy rights.

I just went on a vacation in New England and was dismayed receiving warnings about what might be confiscated if I attempted to carry certain items with me on the plane. My wife takes an anti anxiety medication. I was advised that I must carry the medication in the original bottle from the pharmacy or the TSA would confiscate it.

While in New Hampshire I sold my Lionel Train collection. I received more than $1,000.00 for the collection. I was warned not to carry more than about $500.00 or the money might be confiscated by the TSA as drug money. There were reports of people who had over $1,000.00 in cash with them that had the money confiscated and given a receipt. The victim of the TSA confiscation was required to prove the source of the money in order to get it back.

Airport security has one purpose, protect passengers from terrorism, not to snoop through passengers personnel effects and luggage, in order to find property the TSA can declare as contraband, because they can.

The question is how many of these surveillance requests are necessary and how many are simply politically motivated fishing exhibitions. There seems to be more and more unconstitutional privacy invasions. We must stop the government from acting as a private copyright police force.

pnh102
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Funny...

Amazing how no one is putting the blame squarely upon whom this belongs, the White House and the 0bama administration.

I wonder why? Is violating peoples' constitutional rights OK when he does it?
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tshirt
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Re: Funny...

You assume that every request comes directly from the White House, and that ALL are violating peoples' constitutional rights, when in fact these are court orders, requested by law enforcement, but each one reviewed and issued by a sitting court, which must believe it's actions are constitutional.

pnh102
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1 recommendation

Re: Funny...

Not really, what I assume is that if there was currently a Republican president, we'd be hearing about how the "evil GOP is violating peoples' privacy rights all the time," just as we heard when Bush was president.

I'm not excusing the actions regardless of which president is in power, I am just pointing out a very overt lack of blame and fingerpointing by the media at the current occupant of the White House.
--
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battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Funny...

Why was this evil under Bush's watch but it's OK under 0bama's watch?
Os

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Re: Funny...

Because Obama worshippers are idiots.

Seriously, he can do no wrong for them, and anything is automatically acceptable, even though he's largely kept many of the same programs going, and in some cases, made them worse.

Obama is no friend to privacy.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Funny...

said by Os:

Obama is no friend to privacy.

Show me a mainstream politician who is. After 9/11, most of them fell all over themselves to pass that horrible misnamed law, the PATRIOT Act. And even now, I challenge you to find more than just a few members of Congress who would repeal it.
Os

join:2011-01-26
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Re: Funny...

I can't say I disagree. But that's the sad state of American politics today.

I'd say that the only Senator who voted against it was Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. And for that, he deserves some credit when few others do.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Funny...

Yep, he's about the only one of the lot with anything resembling a spine.

As for the rest, I suspect that the ones who aren't actually in favor of these laws are too scared to oppose them. They think (well, pretty much know) that, if they take that stand, someone will accuse them of being "soft" on crime/terrorism/sex offenders/whatever, and there are enough frightened sheeple out there who would buy into those charges to swing an election.

RR Conductor
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said by Os:

Because Obama worshippers are idiots.

Seriously, he can do no wrong for them, and anything is automatically acceptable, even though he's largely kept many of the same programs going, and in some cases, made them worse.

Obama is no friend to privacy.

The previous post paid for by the RNC.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL
said by battleop:

Why was this evil under Bush's watch but it's OK under 0bama's watch?

It's evil, no matter who's doing it. And, interestingly, doing it seems to be one of only a few things both political parties agree on.

tshirt
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said by pnh102:

Not really, what I assume is that if there was currently a Republican president, we'd be hearing about how the "evil GOP is violating peoples' privacy rights all the time," just as we heard when Bush was president.

So you thought YOU would be the one to make the BASELESS "blame the sitting administration" charge this time?

KrK
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Where were you when Bush started this program?

Not that that excuses Obama for allowing it to continue, but once you give Federal agencies expanded power (NSA.... Homeland Security.... CIA... FBI.... etc etc) they aren't going to give it back up.....
--
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Wilsdom

join:2009-08-06

Re: Funny...

The President appoints the directors of those agencies. They take what he gives
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Funny...

Yes, he does, but it isn't as simple as that. Presidents are also politicians, so, if they want a second term, they have to play to what's popular. In addition, they're also feeling pressure from their political party, whose members don't want to be hung out to dry. So, suppose the president announced a sharp reversal of course on this issue. Now, even if members of both parties, deep down in their heart of hearts, agree with him, their political instincts will kick in. Members of the opposition party will try to use the decision as a way to win votes. Members of the president's party will get scared that they could lose votes because of this, so they put pressure on him to change his mind. He can always hold firm, but he may then find that it gets harder for him to work with members of his own party, partly because they're now a bit pissed at him but also partly because they feel the need to distance themselves from him to save their own skins.

I'm not trying to justify anything here, but doing the right thing in terms of principles sometimes is politically dangerous.

pnh102
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said by KrK:

Where were you when Bush started this program?

Last I checked Bush isn't President anymore. If this program is such a bad thing, why didn't 0bama immediately stop it, or put it under better oversight?
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armed

join:2000-10-20

Re: Funny...

And of course Mitt will do just that...right? LOL
Try as you might these laws were enacted under Republican control and their money backers want it all to continue. It dosen't matter who is President moeny talks and haters hate.

pnh102
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Re: Funny...

said by armed:

And of course Mitt will do just that...right? LOL
Try as you might these laws were enacted under Republican control and their money backers want it all to continue. It dosen't matter who is President moeny talks and haters hate.

And if he doesn't, you people will be all over him as attacking privacy rights, as if Saint 0bama never did such a thing.
--
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Os

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Re: Funny...

Here's what I think we all can agree on.

Regardless of Bush or Obama, both have miserably failed to protect privacy rights.

Regardless of who wins between Obama and Romney, that trend will continue.

And regardless of who wins, corporations will lobby for and receive unprecedented power and control.

This is why I have no intention of voting for either of them.

Noah Vail
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Re: Funny...

said by Os:

Here's what I think we all can agree on.

Regardless of Bush or Obama, both have miserably failed to protect privacy rights.

And if Mitt Romney gets elected, it'll still leave Bill Clinton as the last President who wasn't G.W.Bush.
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Noah Vail
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said by Os:

This is why I have no intention of voting for either of them.

Then it'll be your fault when Vermin Supreme gets elected.
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KrK
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You're just playing the Obama game.

The problem is that they DON'T consider it a bad thing. They consider it "Vital" to "Stop Terrorism!"
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LucasLee

join:2010-11-26
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said by pnh102:

... Bush isn't President anymore. If this program is such a bad thing, why didn't 0bama immediately stop it, or put it under better oversight?

given i'm not privy to the applicable conversations, i'd imagine the case could be made that it has to do with the limits of Executive power. but hey, that's just a thought.

RR Conductor
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said by pnh102:

Amazing how no one is putting the blame squarely upon whom this belongs, the White House and the 0bama administration.

I wonder why? Is violating peoples' constitutional rights OK when he does it?

Thank you Rush Limbaugh, geez. Did you sit back while Bush and Cheney did their crap and blame other people?

tshirt
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Is it possible that sprint doesn't know...

... what a court order looks like, and is just lumping all requests court ordered or not, together?
Or that they are including request from local law enforcement/courts while markey's numbers are only federal agentcy's , or only some federal agentcy's.

NOCTech75
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Re: Is it possible that sprint doesn't know...

said by tshirt:

... what a court order looks like, and is just lumping all requests court ordered or not, together?
Or that they are including request from local law enforcement/courts while markey's numbers are only federal agentcy's , or only some federal agentcy's.

And it's not just courts, e911 centers can generate a subscriber information request. I handle the subpoena's for my company and we typically get those requests once a week.

tshirt
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Re: Is it possible that sprint doesn't know...

I understand that, but Sprint specifally said 350k+ Court orders AND 500k+ subpoena's.


FFH5
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Re: Is it possible that sprint doesn't know...

said by tshirt:

I understand that, but Sprint specifally said 350k+ Court orders AND 500k+ subpoena's.

Either Sprint is the only carrier telling the truth, or Sprint has a lot more criminals using their system than either AT&T or Verizon.
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Noah Vail
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Re: Is it possible that sprint doesn't know...

said by FFH5:

Either Sprint is the only carrier telling the truth, or Sprint has a lot more criminals using their system than either AT&T or Verizon.

Or Sprint is the least likely to verify the validity of a LEO req., making it the most hospitable network for phishing expeditions.
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milkman82

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The new America is on the horizon.

I am just amazed at how quickly we are loosing our country. Our founders warned us of this and what we must do. We were given the tools to fight with.... yet I fear only very few want to do what is necessary. We were all warned these days of big Government would come. In the end it will not be the government that failed the country, but the people that failed the United States and it's core beliefs.

•••

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Someone is not doing thier job...

I get requests from LEAs and they just "want a little information" so I respond back with what the need to do to legally get that information and I never hear anything from them again.

I know someone very well that processes the CALEA stuff for a local branch office of a 3 letter federal agency. I've been told that Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T don't do them any "favors" when working any type of case and that all carriers charge some pretty high fees for everything they do for CALEA warrants.
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ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Someone is not doing thier job...

said by battleop:

I get requests from LEAs and they just "want a little information" so I respond back with what the need to do to legally get that information and I never hear anything from them again.

To me, that indicates that they know precisely what they need to do, but they're hoping they can snow you into giving them what they probably can't get legally.

IMHO, those kinds of requests in and of themselves should be a crime. They're basically figuring that you don't know what they can and can't ask for, so they're trying to get you to give them information they aren't entitled to. That's a form of fraud, if you ask me.

If they can't play by the rules, then they shouldn't be allowed to ask.

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Someone is not doing thier job...

I would say half of them (local) probably don't understand how it works because they are usually calling from some tiny LEA. They probably never call back because they realize what a pain in the ass it is. The other half probably know exactly what they have to do but they are lazy and don't want to go through the trouble.

Most of the time they tell me a little bit about what they are investigating. Most of the time it's over harassing or obscene phone calls to one of our customers. So it's really not worth the LEA's time to fool with it anyways.
--
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GoingPostal

@mellon.com

WTF

The laws that apply to someone going through or handover your physical, snail mail should also apply here. Its the same principle of privacy. They extended that privacy to the telephone and cell phone and it should be extended to what you send over the Internet as well.

concerned

@comcastbusiness.net

pathetic results

Over 1 million requests and we've arrested how many terrorists in that time space-a half dozen maybe? That's a piss poor ROI.

Lone Wolf
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Quest

Back in 2006 Quest refused to hand over calling records to the NSA. Bush's guys got involved and forced them to turn over the info. After that, the government went after the CEO of Quest and got him for insider trading and sentenced him to 6 years. Justice moves swiftly.

Don't mess with the NSA!

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qwest
quote:
In May 2006, USA Today reported that millions of telephone calling records had been handed over to the United States National Security Agency by AT&T Corp., Verizon, and BellSouth since September 11, 2001. This data has been used to create a database of all international and domestic calls. Qwest was allegedly the lone holdout, despite threats from the NSA that their refusal to cooperate may jeopardize future government contracts,[8] a decision which has earned them praise from those who oppose the NSA program.[9]
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