AP: Cops Use Criminal Outfits to Gather Personal Data?

Here’s an outrage for you: Because getting a warrant or a subpoena takes too much time, law enforcement officials now buy personal call data and financial records on suspects from private data firms — some of whom may have obtained the information illegally, according to the AP.

To get private information, data firms (or their contractors) employ tactics such as “pretexting,” a polite term for posing as a customer of a phone company or billing service, in order to obtain that person’s records. Both local and federal law officers have requested information from a company who engaged in such practices, the AP confirmed.

Officers and agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Department of Homeland Security made requests for personal information from private data firms, AP found.

Congress is holding hearings on the debacle — complete with testimony from admitted “pretexters” — and some of those federal agencies have suspended the practice until they hear how it goes.