The number of requests addressed by the study — the first time law enforcement’s cell surveillance has been studied at a national level — surprised some officials who follow the issue closely.
“I never expected it to be this massive,” Rep. Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who is co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, told the Times. “There’s a real danger we’ve already crossed the line.”
Law enforcement requests for information have risen 12 percent to 16 percent for each of the past five years, the Times noted.
AT&T said it now responds to more than 700 request a day, about a third of which do not require court orders or subpoenas, while Sprint said it logged the most requests for information than any carrier last year, reporting a daily average of 1,500 data requests. In order to address all the requests and determine their legality, most carriers reported employing round-the-clock teams of lawyers and technicians, The Times reported.