Joined: Jan 20, 2010
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September 28th, 2011 at 9:38:25 AM permalink
When choosing a cell phone carrier, it's easy to compare each company's price, number of minutes, phone models, areas of coverage, et cetera. What AT&T, Verizon, & Sprint won't tell you is which plan offers the most privacy.

In August 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice secretly compiled an internal chart which explains the privacy policies of the various cell phone carriers. Verizon, for example, keeps a list of everyone youíve exchanged text messages with for the past year. But T-Mobile stores the same data up to 5 years. Itís 18 months for Sprint, and 7 years for AT&T. That makes Verizon appear to have the most privacy-friendly policy. Except that Verizon is alone in retaining the actual contents of text messages. It allegedly stores the messages for 5 days, while T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint donít store them at all. For those concerned with companies tracking their movements via cell site, however, Verizon does seem to be the best option. Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for 'a year or more;' Sprint up to 2 years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008. (Your boss doesn't know about the time 2 years ago you called in sick to go play blackjack, but AT&T does.)

All of this is relevant because both the Bush and Obama administrations have consistently argued that government wiretapping without a warrant is both legal and necessary to keep us safe. In fact, 2 months from now the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case testing the governmentís argument that it may use GPS devices to monitor a suspectís every movement without a warrant.

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