Big Brother may not be watching you, but your cellphone carrier is. Mark Spitz, a German Green Party politician and privacy advocate, was curious about exactly what his cellphone company, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his whereabouts, so he took them to court. The results were eye-opening: During a six-month period, from August 31, 2009, to February 28, 2010, the company had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates a whopping 35,000 times, tracing his every move. Experts say Spitz has provided an unprecedented look into how cellphone companies track their users. About every seven seconds, your cellphone company will determine the nearest cell tower to efficiently route calls, and then, for billing purposes, track your location and how long the call lasted. In the U.S., telecommunications companies don’t have to report the material they collect, and both the FBI and DEA often use cellphone records to pinpoint suspects. “I want to show the political message that this kind of data retention is really, really big and you can really look into the life of people for six months and see what they are doing where they are,” said Spitz.
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