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Passive positioning data are those generated without requiring personal contact with the people involved and which yield large amounts of anonymous data. It is automatically stored in the memory files of mobile operators for call activities or movements of handsets in the network.

In practice, data extraction from the system of a mobile network operator (MNO) depends on the specific technical solutions the MNO is using. In general, every MNO has a billing centre and, most likely, a data warehouse where data is periodically stored for billing and further analyses for the purposes of network planning and management. Besides central storage systems where data is readily available, it is possible to extract data in the process of probing on the base station subsystem (BSS) and network switching subsystem (NSS) levels.