It's being reported in The Guardian that EE, Vodafone, and Three all have automated systems in place that allow the police to access phone records with the click of a button. As one employee described it, the systems are like a "cash machine" for customer data.
According to a clause in the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), phone companies must keep up to a year of phone records that can be accessed by law enforcement agencies without the need for a warrant. Apparently the "vast majority" of phone records obtained by police are delivered through the automated systems without any involvement of network staff.
In contrast, O2 still requires all police requests to be reviewed by a human operator.
The automated systems do not, however, allow police officers to obtain information just for kicks. Any officers who wants someone's phone records must first obtain permission from another officer, who will then fill out an online form. Everything after that is dealt with automatically and supposedly saves 32 minutes of human work time per request.
Spokespeople for all three networks confirmed to The Guardian that such systems are in place to make it easier for them to comply with the law. Scarily the statement from Three was the only one to make any mention of ensuring user privacy.
I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this, are you happy with an automated system handing over your info so easily? [The Guardian]
Featured image: Bloomberg/Getty via The Guardian