Nowadays it seems like our private bubble gets smaller, but there are ways to circumvent such concerns. Through the installation of encrypted SMS apps or firewalls, information stored on our mobile devices can be protected from potential hackers and scammers.
As telecommunication providers are under pressure by local enforcement agencies and customers to protect mobile security, it can be difficult to guarantee a certain level of privacy. Verizon Wireless released its first transparency report, which found that police departments at the federal, state and local levels are asking about customer information.
"While we have a legal obligation to provide customer information to law enforcement in response to lawful demands, we take seriously our duty to provide such information only when authorized by law," Randal Milch, Verizon's General Counsel and EVP for Public Policy, wrote on the company's blog. "Our dedicated teams carefully review each demand and reject those that fail to comply with the law."
According to an article in Forbes Magazine, officers can still obtain their phone number, the address and name associated it with as well as "real-time access to phone numbers as they are dialed," the user's location or incoming call list — without displaying some sort of probable cause.
This may explain why 11 percent of the 321,545 requests didn't include a search warrant, but Verizon's transparency report may be lacking some important details. For example, the report fails to mention the number of orders through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the National Security Agency.
In Verizon's defense, Milch added that "almost half of the general orders required us to release the same types of basic information that could also be released pursuant to a subpoena."
On the bright side, if officers want Verizon to collaborate on a trap or trace order, wiretap or access to stored data like text messages and emails, those inquiries require a search warrant or subpoena. Verizon plans on releasing another transparency report later on this year, so keep an eye out for those updates.
However, it does not have to always be this way. In Canada, Swift SMS Gateway can increase protections for individuals and businesses that work with highly sensitive information by installing an SMS API. This way, workers can feel more comfortable sending correspondence with colleagues without the concern that their right to privacy is being infringed.