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Carriers face big surge in cellphone surveillance requests, raise a few alarm bells


Color us unsurprised that US law enforcers would push hard for surveillance access. Congressman Ed Markey has published a new report on requests to cellular carriers that shows a recent rush of demand for information, including last year. The rates vary sharply, but T-Mobile has seen a yearly hike of 12 to 16 percent, while Verizon has seen its own grown 15 percent -- and Sprint took nearly twice as many surveillance requests as AT&T or Verizon in 2011, despite its smaller size. Markey's concern is that police and other investigators are casting too wide a net and sweeping up innocent customers through widescale requests, potentially violating their privacy in the process. Whether or not cell tower dumps and other broad fishing attempts are problems, carriers have been quick to point out that they have huge teams in place to deal with police requests and cling steadfastly to requiring a warrant when the law demands it. Needless to say, there are a few groups that strongly disagree with that last claim.

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