WSJ: NSA does not gather cellphone-location records despite authorization to do so

WSJ: NSA does not gather cellphone-location records despite authorization to do so
In what is quickly becoming a pesky topic that just won't go away, no less than the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night that even though the NSA is legally authorized to collect information that can pinpoint the location of cellphone callers, it refuses to do so. The secret court order to Verizon that leaked and started this whole ball of wax required the nation's largest mobile carrier to turn over "comprehensive communications routing information," which includes the data revealing the location of all calls placed on Big Red's pipeline that is covered by the order.

The same request is made of AT&T and Sprint. T-Mobile is majority owned by a foreign company, Deutsche Telekom, which appears to preclude it from directly providing information, although calls carried by the carrier could still be part of the NSA's data once they travel over another operator's pipeline. Verizon Wireless is 45% owned by the U.K.'s Vodafone which apparently doesn't stop Big Red from turning over information directly to the NSA.

According to the Journal report, while the NSA does have the legal authority to grab location information from cellphone calls, it has decided not to. Information that could be received includes the nearest cellphone tower used to make or receive a call. While this information has been known to be used to place criminal suspects at certain locations to link them with a specific crime, the NSA says the data does not help them with the type of intelligence it conducts.

source: WSJ

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