The New York City Police Department is building a database of cell phone numbers and their owners. NYPD officers have been advised to record the serial numbers on suspects’ cell phones in an effort to track them against past or future criminal activity.
The cell phone database could be a powerful tool for police investigations into drug networks and other crimes, according to police.
An internal NYPD memo states that police officers should record the International Mobile Equipment Identity number on a suspect’s cell phone during or after an arrest.
The International Mobile Equipment Identity number is recorded by cell phone service providers when mobile calls are made.
This cell phone information could allow police to match a cell phone calls made by one suspect to a phone used by other criminals.
Some limitations on the usefulness of this information – Chinese-made cell phones sold in India have the same number and some other foreign sold cell phones are encoded with false numbers.
Civil libertarians are concerned by the cell phone database, since normally a warrant is required to access calls made by a person or phone numbers in a person’s address book.
One civil libertarian said that it looks like New York police officers are “taking phones apart to get information” without the required warrants.
The cell phone data will be joined with another records database of over 20 million 911 calls that the NYPD has been collecting.
The New York Police Department began building the 911 call database for incidents involving a police response in 2003.
Source: NY Daily News