September 30, 2011

Cell Carriers Spying Procedures, Released!

September 30, 2011. Washington. Is your cell phone carrier spying on you and providing the information to the US Justice Department for future use in your prosecution? Yes. Considered a crazy conspiracy theory until now, a just released Justice Dept memo explains in detail exactly what information each cell phone provider is capturing and storing. See the DOJ memo and read exactly how many of your activities your specific cell carrier is tracking, as well as how long they store it. Read the full details here.

Justice Dept Memo shows cell carriers working hand in hand with Homeland Security to spy on all customers.

Spurred by dozens of Freedom of Information requests by various state offices of the ACLU, as well as private citizens and small tech companies, the information was finally release in one brief and easy to digest Justice Dept memo. Obtained by Wired.com and distributed widely by the ACLU, the memo found its way into our hands here at Whiteout Press. While the DOJ memo is dated August 2010, separate ACLU investigations and independent media inquiries have insisted the information is still accurate and current.

According to the Justice Department memo, US cell phone corporations monitor, capture, store and provide the following information to their agents about all their US customers – subscriber personal information, call records, cell towers used, text message and their content, pictures, IP session info, IP destination info, monthly bill details, payment details, store surveillance video of you, service applications.

Every activity by every customer in America is monitored for the above information by their cell phone carrier. Experts have suggested that for this particular US intelligence program, the cell carriers don’t automatically turn over the vast amounts of data to the DOJ. Instead, the cell phone providers store every bit of it for various lengths of time, always available to the DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security. How much of the information is actually requested by and provided to government agents is not known. The ACLU believes the distribution of all of your above habits and personal information is wide spread. They not only emphasize, but also provide specific details, of which local governments participate in the program. Law enforcement officials from any level of government can request and obtain your information for their personal use as well.

We at Whiteout Press processed the data from the DOJ chart to determine which cell carriers are unconditional government agents and which are attempting to safeguard their customers’ personal information. While their specific policies vary slightly, it’s safe to say that none of the companies are making an effort to guard personal privacy.

Here is a brief summary of the cell carriers and their specific policies:

  • Virgin Mobility. The company is now owned by Sprint, but has separate compliance offices and rules. Virgin stores and provides your personal information forever and specific call details for 2 years. The company only stores texting records for up to 90 days, but is one of the few carriers that stores the content of each text message for 90 days. The company doesn’t retain pictures or IP information, billing details and surveillance videos are handled through their parent company, Sprint.



  • T-Mobile. The company stores and provides most data for 5 years including; personal information, individual call details, text details and cell tower locations, but it does not capture content from individual texts. Pictures are stored and turned over as long as the customer’s service is active. They do not retain any IP or billing information, but hold payment details for 5 years. Store surveillance videos are available for 2 weeks.
  • Verizon. The nation’s largest carrier captures and provides customer personal information for up to 5 years. It also stores specific call records, cell tower details and texting details for one year. Unlike most other carriers, Verizon stores the content of text messages. They hold it for up to 5 days. While pictures are stored and made available, the customer unknowingly controls this aspect. If the customer stores pictures, they are available. Once the customer deletes them, they’re removed from Verizon’s storage. They store IP info longer than any other carrier, up to 1 year. Billing and payment details are stored for up to 5 years. Store surveillance video is available for 30 days.
  • ATT/Cingular. This carrier stores and provides your personal information depending on how long you’ve been a customer. They have the worst record for storing individual call and text message details (5-7 years), but do not capture the message content. They also don’t store pictures and only log IP information in certain instances. ATT/Cingular provides billing and payment information for up to 7 years, as well as store surveillance video for up to 2 months.
  • Sprint and Nextel. Customer personal information is held and made available forever. While individual call and cell tower details are stored for 2 years. Text message details are stored for 18 months, but message content is not captured. Storage for pictures varies and IP information is held for 60 days. Bills are stored for 7 years while payment details are available forever. Store surveillance video availability also varies.

To view the Justice Department Memo containing the above chart, visit Wired.com.

The release of the DOJ Memo comes at a particularly important time. Congress is currently debating the expansion of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act with a bill titled the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011. Currently, any violation of any user agreement for any product or service, is a misdemeanor. The Senate Judiciary Committee has crafted a bill, SB 1151, that would make any user agreement violation, no matter how small or innocent, a felony.

Worse yet, the crime would now qualify as a terrorist act against the United States and all offenders would automatically be classified as ‘Domestic Terrorists’ by the Department of Homeland Security. As most tech and internet companies point out, as well as civil liberties groups, every American is guilty of ignoring the multi-page ‘User Agreement’ thrown at them every five minutes while surfing the internet.

Read last week’s Whiteout Press article, ‘Are You a Cyber Terrorist?’ for specific details. Special thanks to the ACLU and Wired.com for providing the Justice Department Memo detailed above.

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