Home > Rights > South Dakota DCI agrees with the NSA, Verizon is the best place to shop for phone records

South Dakota DCI agrees with the NSA, Verizon is the best place to shop for phone records

August 29, 2013

PrismYesterday I was listening to the Daniel Willard Robocall trial happening in Madison, SD. One of the witnesses called by the prosecution was Bryan Gortmaker, Director of South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). During the investigation Gortmaker had to retrieve phone records of calls involving a TracFone allegedly used to make some of the robocalls. What is interesting is that Gortmaker did not get records from TracFone. Instead all calls involving Verizon were subpoenaed and received. Gortmaker stated this was done because a colleague within the DCI said this is the standard way they do things. The records from TracFone were not actively sought, even though they would be the most relevant for the case.

This points to a much bigger problem at Verizon. It appears that Verizon doesn’t just comply with court orders; Verizon actively partners will any law enforcement agency to pass on the data of their customers. CNET pointed out back in June that the NSA has created a surveillance ‘partnership’ with companies like Verizon. I think Director Gortmaker’s testimony shows it is not just the NSA that has been ‘partnering’ with Verizon. If the DCI uses Verizon as their favorite place to get phone records it makes one wonder how many law enforcement agencies operate the same.

Keep that in mind when doing anything involving the phone or internet. Companies such as Verizon have become ‘partners’ with the NSA and other law enforcement agencies. The NSA may have the largest collection of private data for citizens; but now I’m starting to wonder how much of that data is also collected and housed by agencies such as DCI. I doubt any agency other than the NSA is keeping such data on a large-scale. However that doesn’t mean they aren’t collecting and keeping data without regards to the Fourth Amendment. Perhaps some of the attention pointed at the NSA should also be aimed at these tech companies that are over-complying with data requests.

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