Markey confronts law enforcement, DOJ over growing cellphone record requests

After investigations revealed a startling number of law enforcement requests for private cellphone data in recent years, Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill Overnight Tech: Alleged robocall kingpin testifies before Congress | What lawmakers learned | Push for new robocall rules | Facebook changes privacy settings ahead of new data law | Time Warner CEO defends AT&T merger at trial MORE (D-Mass.) on Thursday released a discussion draft of legislation that would limit such digital searches and seizures.

As co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, Markey’s inquiry with nine major wireless carriers revealed that law enforcement officials at all levels of government made 1.3 million requests for user data from the companies in 2011. The responses also showed that the number of requests by law enforcement is increasing each year, in some cases by as much as 16 percent.

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In response, the Wireless Surveillance Act of 2012 would require law enforcement to provide regular disclosure of information on the requests and to obtain search warrants prior to conducting geolocation tracking. It would also mandate Federal Communications Commission regulations limiting how long wireless carriers keep consumers’ personal information.

“With searches and seizures now happening in cyberspace, this legislation will update the Fourth Amendment for the 21st century. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this critical legislation,” the representative stated in a press release.

Steven Titch, a policy analyst and telecommunications expert at the Reason Foundation, says “it remains to be seen” how well the bill, if signed into law, would hold up, “but I think it’s a good discussion to start. The more we can really create a framework ... for due process on information that’s out in cyberspace, the better it is.”

Markey has also written a letter to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderComey's book tour is all about 'truth' — but his FBI tenure, not so much James Comey and Andrew McCabe: You read, you decide Eric Holder headed to New Hampshire for high-profile event MORE asking how law enforcement is handling the records of consumers, as well as what legal standard the Department of Justice believes to apply. According to his office’s press release, “The congressman is awaiting a response from DOJ.”