Perhaps it’s time for a burner phone? The New York Times reports that the NYPD has begun quietly and methodically accumulating heaps of call logs and putting them into a searchable database called the Enterprise Case Management System.
It works like this: When someone has their cell phone stolen, the NYPD frequently subpoenas the call logs for that phone, hoping that if the thief used the phone, the recordings will provide evidence that can help track him or her down. But instead of deleting the logs after closing the case, they continue to exist in the NYPD’s database, and could “conceivably be used for any investigative purpose.”
Worse, because the subpoenas typically cover all calls made on the day the phone was stolen, calls made by the actual victim can be included in the database. This means that the NYPD call log database not only includes information about criminals, but also about innocent victims.
Of course, subpoenas only work if the cell phone provider is willing to give up the data, and companies like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile appear all too eager to submit to the NYPD’s requests.
“With these carriers, the police do not generally seek the victims’ consent,” writes the Times. “In fact, the subpoenas are executed without the victims’ knowledge.”
Hey, wantrepreneurs: looks like someone needs to disrupt the telecom industry, stat.