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How carriers gather, track and sell your private data

Fascinating and frightening

It is no secret that anyone with a computer is potentially leaking personal data, but little is known by the public about how your personal data is gathered, tracked and sold by your mobile phone carrier. According to the video above by graphic design student Michael Rigley, the average user has 736 pieces of personal data collected every day and service providers store this information for one to five years.

The video explores the “secret life of our MMS data and the tradeoffs we inadvertently face as we choose convenience of communication over privacy and control of personal data,” writes Maria Popova at

The public has no idea how much information they are sharing with their carriers, and even fewer understand that the information is sold to third parties for ungodly sums. Fully 28,000 multi-media (MMS) messages, mostly text messages, are sent every second and information like your number, the receivers number, locations, length of message, duration, date and time are transmitted.

Service providers store the data for various lengths of time as demonstrated in the video above with Verizon storing all data for one year, Sprint for two years, and AT&T an astonishing five years.

“Looking through the glass darkly,” writes Ben Popper at, “Ringley points out this makes customers unwitting participants in a vast case, with their data being sold to the highest bidder, most often to ad networks who can serve targeted ads.”


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