How much do telecoms charge for mobile phone wiretapping?

By on April 4, 2012, 12:30 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union recently released a wealth of information obtained from over 200 police departments across the country. The data shows a history of tracking mobile phones and collecting call logs without warrants but perhaps the most disturbing information has to do with the cost associated with wiretaps.

Information gathered by the ACLU from the Tucson, Arizona police department shows that AT&T charges law enforcement a $325 activation fee in addition to daily rates of $5 for data and $10 for audio transmissions. T-Mobile charges a flat fee of $500 per target while Verizon commands $700 per month in addition to a $50 administrative fee.

The rates are even higher for specific data requests like voicemail and text message access. AT&T requires $150 for voicemail access while Verzion nets $50 per target for text message access. Sprint has a complete breakdown that includes $120 for pictures or video, $60 for e-mail messages, $60 for voice mail and $30 for text message access.

In addition to individual tracking, law enforcement can also “rent” a cell tower, known as a tower dump, which allows them to see every number that accessed the tower. This service is typically offered at an hourly rate as follows: $75 per tower for AT&T with a minimum of two hours, $30-60 per hour for Verizon, $150 for T-Mobile and $50 for Sprint, although the latter doesn’t seem to have an hourly rate.

A statement e-mailed to the original story author from Verizon said the company doesn’t charge police for emergency cases or historical location information in non-emergency cases. Sprint said they don’t charge for data requests in “exigent circumstances” while AT&T referred to the company’s privacy policy and a line that reads, “We do not sell your information to anyone for any reason. Period.” T-Mobile declined to comment.

A summary of the ACLU’s findings can be found here while the full records are located here.

User Comments: 7

Got something to say? Post a comment
psycros psycros said:

?We do not sell your information to anyone for any reason. Period.?

Yes, and unlimited means unlimited. Right?

treetops treetops said:

poor drug dealers

Tygerstrike said:

So basically they can listen in on any conversation they choose w/o a warrant? That smacks of secret police tactics. How dare they invade our privacy w/o due cause. That not only goes to show how our police forces can bypass the constitution just by paying money to the cellphone providers, but how with a few dollars they can bypass the constitution. The cellphone providers should be ashamed of their actions.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

psycros said:

?We do not sell your information to anyone for any reason. Period.?

Yes, and unlimited means unlimited. Right?

QFT. +1

treetops said:

poor drug dealers

What makes you think that police only target drug dealers in these warrantless wiretaps? From my understanding of this, it appears anyone can be a target, and due process under the law no longer means diddly. Thank the ever so intrusive patriot act for that.

Guest said:

Your constitution was bought at Thrift store for 1.75!

treetops treetops said:

@wendi I know its a bum deal but I really have nothing to hide so when it comes down to it I say meh. The only thing I know to do is to stay informed and vote. Yeah the patriot act was slipped by while america was paralyzed by 911.

I try to throw a little humor at things I can't control.

Guest said:

in the grand scheme of things, Isn't that my Tax dollars paying for all that wire tapping?

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