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Feds ‘Pinged’ Sprint GPS Data 8 Million Times Over a Year

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posted on Dec, 2 2009 @ 11:44 AM

The manager also revealed the existence of a previously undisclosed web portal that Sprint provides law enforcement to conduct automated “pings” to track users. Through the website, authorized agents can type in a mobile phone number and obtain global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the phone.

Through "the website"? Who has access? I wonder what security they have on "the website", as leaving it vulnerable would be more of a security risk then anything else.

But a Sprint Nextel spokesman said that Soghoian, who recorded the Sprint manager’s statements at the closed conference, misunderstood what the figure represents. The number of customers whose GPS data was provided to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies was much less than 8 million, as was the total number of individual requests for data.

The spokesman wouldn’t disclose how many of Sprint’s 48 million customers had their GPS data shared, or indicate the number of unique surveillance requests from law enforcement. But he said that a single surveillance order against a lone target could generate thousands of GPS “pings” to the cell phone, as the police track the subject’s movements over the course of days or weeks. That, Sprint claims, is the source of the 8 million figure: it’s the cummulative number of times Sprint cell phones covertly reported their location to law enforcement over the year.

The spokesman also said that law enforcement agents have to obtain a court order for the data, except in special emergency circumstances.

Then it goes on to say

“We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests,” Taylor is heard saying. “So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy.

I'm sure that it's not really intended to come off this way, but I feel like this comment somewhat undermines the 'special emergency circumstances' to a degree. Anyone agree/disagree?

Can they please just release some of the instances in which this use of technology has provided responsible results? This can get out of hand very quickly. Especially if this process becomes more streamlined in the future.

[edit on 2-12-2009 by patmac]

posted on Dec, 28 2009 @ 08:15 PM
reply to post by patmac

Must just be old news here on ATS.

posted on Dec, 28 2009 @ 09:01 PM
Surely you must know that if you can track your location by a military satellite system, the owners of the system can track you.

Now if wives could log in and find their husbands' locations, that would be a problem.

posted on Dec, 28 2009 @ 09:04 PM
I believe Sprint was the only major US wireless network to take government money earlier this year.

Sprint is also working with the government in preparation for 2010 census:

Sprint wants government money

[edit on 28-12-2009 by ddacunha]

[edit on 28-12-2009 by ddacunha]

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