We uncovered search warrants that show not just big agencies like the FBI or NSA, but small local police departments are taking data off thousands of cell phones belonging to people not suspected of a crime. While this data is sometimes used to track bad guys, we found one case where it was used to track someone who stole a sheriff's gun out of his car. Police can gather data from thousands of phones with almost no legal structure on what can and can't be done with the data. No one is monitoring police and there are no federal rules on when a 'tower dump' should or should not be authorized. In some cases in South Carolina, police can keep all of the information they receive in a database for 7 years. It's all happening without the public ever being told data from their cell phone was gathered by police.
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