Daily Archives: April 17, 2012

Taxpayers Pony Up Law Enforcement Costs Of Cell Phone Surveillance

These Are The Prices AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Charge For Cellphone Wiretaps.  Forbes.

The government has to pony up to get that special information off your cell phone activity. 

Turns out, we, the people as taxpayers, foot these bills.  That is correct.  A certain section of government gets to buy up a service that the rest of us, as the government of, “We the People,” get to pay for in tax dollars.  

The standard line.  Emergency cases excluded.

…any fee charged is for recovery of cost required to support these law enforcement requests 24/7,” …

It is good to know where our taxpayer big bucks go.  Nothing like chasing after criminals the high tech way.

Wiretaps cost hundreds of dollars per target every month, generally paid at daily or monthly rates. To wiretap a customer’s phone, T-Mobile charges law enforcement a flat fee of $500 per target. Sprint’s wireless carrier Sprint Nextel requires police pay $400 per “market area” and per “technology” as well as a $10 per day fee, capped at $2,000. AT&T charges a $325 activation fee, plus $5 per day for data and $10 for audio. Verizon charges a $50 administrative fee plus $700 per month, per target.

Data requests for voicemail or text messages cost extra. AT&T demands $150 for access to a target’s voicemail, while Verizon charges $50 for access to text messages. Sprint offers the most detailed breakdown of fees for various kinds of data on a phone, asking $120 for pictures or video, $60 for email, $60 for voice mail and $30 for text messages.

All four telecom firms also offer so-called “tower dumps” that allow police to see the numbers of every user accessing a certain cell tower over a certain time at an hourly rate. AT&T charges $75 per tower per hour, with a minimum of two hours. Verizon charges between $30 and $60 per hour for each cell tower. T-Mobile demands $150 per cell tower per hour, and Sprint charges $50 per tower, seemingly without an hourly rate.

For location data, the carrier firms offer automated tools that let police track suspects in real time. Sprint charges $30 per month per target to use its L-Site program for location tracking. AT&T’s E911 tool costs $100 to activate and then $25 a day. T-Mobile charges a much pricier $100 per day.

Consider it as just another service the government contracts out to the private sector.  Putting taxpayer money back into the private sector.

That feels better, eh?