The Things They Stored: Malte Spitz Delivers a Powerful Talk on Mobile Carriers Recording Your Daily Life

The mobile phone you carry in your pocket has revolutionized daily life, but it’s also made possible a surveillance society previously only dreamed of by the likes of the Stasi, KGB and NSA.

Malte Spitz, a German Green Party politician, wanted to know what his carrier, T-Mobile, collected on him, and filed suit to get the data. After a settlement, he got a CD of the data the company retained, and in a TedGlobal talk on June 27, he brought down the house, calling for others to fight for their right to self-determination in the digital age.

Although there is no mandatory data retention law in the U.S., none of the major carriers tell the public how long they store the data, nor do they make it possible for a citizen to request the data stored about himself or herself.

Luckily, the ACLU cleverly got this information, which seems to be freely shared with the Justice Department, by sending government sunshine requests to state and local police that the feds shared information with.

The answers should scare you.

As for your ISP? None of the major ISPs disclose this data (we tried to get it in 2007), and few online companies share their data-logging practices, either.