US Senator Files Probe on Widespread Warrantless Device Tracking by Cops


US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has sent letters to the FCC and mobile carriers demanding an explanation as to why law enforcement agencies are permitted to track any US mobile phone without a court order.

Senator Wyden sent official letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and major US mobile carriers asking why third parties, namely the police, can access the personal data of US citizens, including data about their precise location by scanning their mobile devices all without a search warrant.

The Oregon lawmaker accused mobile carriers of failing to fulfill their responsibility to keep subscribers’ data from being accessed by third parties.

“I am writing to insist that AT&T take proactive steps to prevent the unrestricted disclosure and potential abuse of private customer data, including real-time location information, by at least one other company to the government,” he wrote to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

World Leaders and Their Mobile Phone Devices: Who Uses What?

The Senator’s step comes after the New York Times published a story, detailing how a sheriff in a Missouri county used a special service called Securus, initially designed to track inmates’ calls, to track citizens, including a judge and other members of the state Highway Patrol.

Securus allows for data to be exploited not only from AT&T customers, but also T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint users, and law enforcement agents do not need a court order or other form of permission, according to NYT.

Wayden’s letter lays out a number of measures carriers must undertake, including undertaking an audit of each third party the data goes to; notifying subscribers, whose geolocation is used without permission; terminate relations with third parties who abuse subscriber data and publish a list of third parties with whom subscriber data is shared.

“Americans should be able to obtain this information from wireless carriers, just as they can obtain from the consumer credit agencies a list of the private parties who have accessed their credit reports,” the letter reads, according to Motherboard.

In his letter to the FCC, Wyden asked the department to “promptly investigate Securus, the wireless carriers’ failure to maintain exclusive control over law enforcement access to their customers’ location data, and also conduct a broad investigation into what demonstration of customer consent, if any, each wireless carrier requires from other companies before the carries provide them with customer location information and other data.”

Nicholas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, told Motherboard that “this once again shows that data is like an oil spill: the contamination gets everywhere. The notion that a chain of 3+ companies, including one specifically intended for marketing, is able to resell access to everyone’s real-time location with pretty high precision is disturbing, but it shouldn’t be surprising.”



  1. It’s all in the license agreement you signed. This type of agreement is called an ‘adhesion contract’ and there is a lot of debate as to whether these contracts are legal and binding. Typically a contract is a negotiated document between contracting parties. But with an adhesion contract it is take it or leave it – no negotiation.

    • All someone needs to do is start up a phone company offering more security while highlighting the other backstabbers in the industry, and they would CLEAN HOUSE.

      Same price. More security. No Spying.

      A company like that would corner the market; But they would never be allowed to exist.

      The IT company I worked for in ’99 morphed into a Voice-Over IP phone company, and the battles with the FEDs were a nightmare.

      The owner and his partner REFUSED the FEDs access to their network, and the Agency ended up physically tying into the system by trespassing; they drilled a hole in the ceiling and wired directly in, according to him.

      So I don’t think phone companies are private institutions AT ALL. They are so heavily regulated that they are somehow merged with government, or have an agreement of some kind trading spy capabilities for huge profits and secured market share.

      It a weird situation. Industry insiders usually originate bills regulating the communications industry, as well as bribing members of Congress. But they NEVER use this clout to secure consumers rights, they do the OPPOSITE.

      This is IMO visible evidence of Corporations and Government operating as one: Facism.

      It began in America when the Robber Barons like J.D. Rockefeller EACH acquired a yearly budget that SURPASSED the USA Federal Government’s…

      BTW The owner of this IT company, a college buddy, was convinced 911 was an inside job back in 2004 or so, waaaay before I realized anything was afoot…

  2. “When tyranny comes to America it will come in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. James Madison.
    Every day the deep state drives the nail of tyranny deeper into the heart of liberty all the while claiming it’s for our benefit.
    So when tRump is given power to arrest and detain Americans indefinitely without charge or due process then America has truly fallen to a dictatorship. This current president has all the markings of a cruel dictator.

    • it defies belief that tRump has gotten this far without being put in prison…or at least totally exposed.

      i have yet to see any comprehensive argument of how/why it has never happened.

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