Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Secret memo reveals which telecoms store your data the longest"

Francis Harvey, to whom my thanks, brought this item to my attention. In an article by David Kravets of describes "a newly released Justice Department internal memo that for the first time reveals the data retention policies of America’s largest telecoms." The article includes a link to the one-page memo. Apparently AT&T has the biggest appetite for keeping track of its user's movements:
The biggest difference in retention surrounds so-called cell-site data. That is information detailing a phone’s movement history via its connections to mobile phone towers while it's traveling.

Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for “a year or more;” Sprint up to two years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008.
Also of interest: Verizon keeps "text message content" for 3-5 days, but T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint don't keep it at all.

This information could be useful to policy makers, as the article recognizes.
The document release comes two months before the Supreme Court hears a case testing the government’s argument that it may use GPS devices to monitor a suspect’s every movement without a warrant. And the disclosure comes a month ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Electronic Privacy Communications Act, an outdated law that the government has invoked to obtain, without a warrant, the data the Justice Department document describes.
Stay tuned for future developments.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

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