New document reveals privacy practices of phone companies

September 29, 2011 1:36:35 PM PDT
A document obtained by the ACLU shows for the first time how the four largest cellphone companies in the U.S. treat data about their subscribers' calls, text messages, Web surfing and approximate locations.

The one-page document from the Justice Department's cybercrime division shows, for instance, that Verizon Wireless keeps, for a year, information about which cell towers subscriber phones connect to. That data that can be used to figure out where the phone has been, down to the level of a neighborhood. AT&T has kept the same data continuously since July 2008.

The sheet is a guide for law enforcement, which can request the information from the carriers through legal channels. The ACLU obtained it through a Freedom of Information Act request.


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