Is Your Wireless Carrier Tracking Your Surfing Habits (Maybe)
Oh what your mobile phone carrier knows and tracks about you! A one-page document from the Justice Department‘s cybercrime division shows how cell phone companies record and retain your call and surfing activity (calls, text messages, web surfing and approximate location). Here’s a summary of how each company retains your information (full details in the image below):
- Verizon Wireless – rolling one-year records of cell tower usage & what phone accessed what web site
- AT&T / Cingular – ongoing records of cell tower usage since July of 2008
- T-Mobile USA – doesn’t keep any data on Web browsing activity
- Sprint Nextel’s Virgin Mobile – 3 month record of text content
- Other than Virgin Mobile and Verizon, none of the carriers keep texts but they keep records of who visited a particular web site.
- Verizon keeps some information for up to a year that can be used to ascertain if a particular phone visited a particular Web site
- Sprint Nextel’s Virgin Mobile keeps the text content of text messages for three months. Verizon keeps it for three to five days. None of the other carriers keep texts at all, but they keep records of who texted who for more than a year.
- AT&T keeps up to seven years of records of who texts who — and when, but not the message content. Virgin Mobile keeps that data for two to three months.
Readily available via a simple Internet search, this document shows how cellphone companies in the U.S. treat data about their subscribers’ cell phone use.
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