A recent report says Sprint Wireless handed over 8 million customer GPS data records to authorities in 2008 alone. While that number may be inflated, it’s a scary amount of personal data.
There are always legitimate reasons for providing this type of data to law enforcement such as tracking missing people, attempting to find fugitives, etc. However, I highly doubt they needed to track eight million records for missing people and criminals last year, which begs the question, what in the hell were they requesting and why did they get it? Luckily we can sort of explain:
[At the Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception, Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Gathering conference] Sprint Nextel’s electronic surveillance manager Paul Taylor described an automated system that law enforcement could use to easily look up subscriber whereabouts.
According to SlipperyBrick it works in the following manner:
Law Enforcement can submit a request for a user’s location up to every three minutes, for a period of 60 days. That’s how you get the 8 million number.
I’d really like to know what requirements must be met in order to obtain this info, I’m assuming they just run in screaming like crazed monkeys and shout “Patriot Act, Patriot Act.”