Mobile operators say they received 1.3 million requests for cell phone data in 2011, a spike of as much as 15 percent over the year before.
Network World reports
the requests, which were tallied at the behest of Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), are aimed at helping law enforcement solve crimes and include data such as detailed call records, geolocation info, text messages and even cell tower dumps, which include all the numbers using a specific cell phone tower at a specific time of day. The data, provided by AT&T, C-Spire, Leap, Cricket, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, Tracfone, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, was requested under legal orders or emergency situations the operators said.
Yankee Group Senior VP of Research Wally Swain comments
“This high growth in requests for call information from the police hopefully does not reflect a higher crime rate in the U.S. More likely, it reflects the shift in phone usage from fixed to mobile. Our survey results show an increasing number of U.S. consumers say their primary phone is their cell phone. This tendency is even more pronounced in those under the age of 35, unfortunately the demographic for many criminal acts. The other U.S. tendency that could be supporting this is a shift to prepaid. Prepaid opens up communications to sectors of society that could not afford or could not qualify for standard U.S. operator postpaid offers. Unfortunately again, the correlation between socio-economic level and incidence of criminal activity is also well established. More people using cell phones means more people using cell phones for crime, more so when the demographics of crime are correlated with the demographics of cell phone use.”