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DEA Works With Telecom To Use Data Trove

SURVEILLANCE—U.S.

September 3, 2013

The New York Times reports on the Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T. For at least six years, according to slides provided to the Times, law enforcement officials working on counter-narcotics operations with administrative subpoenas have had access to “an enormous AT&T database” containing decades of Americans’ phone calls. The government allegedly pays the telecommunications provider to place employees in drug-fighting units. The employees work with Drug Enforcement Agency officials and local detectives to provide phone data, often including location data, going back to 1987. The data—up to 4 billion phone records a day—is stored by AT&T and not the government. “Is this a massive change in the way the government operates?” queried a Columbia law professor. “No. Actually you could say that it’s a desperate effort by the government to catch up.” Meanwhile, in an op-ed, Ginger McCall, founder of Advocates for Accountable Democracy, writes about the future of technological surveillance, noting, “we are doing far too little to prepare ourselves.” (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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