Dec 4, 2013
NSA Isn’t Alone: Secret Government Program Embeds AT&T Workers in Drug Squads
Posted on Sep 2, 2013
In a highly secret and troubling agreement, federal and local law enforcement have been working hand-in-hand for years with AT&T to sift through the company’s records of private telephone calls, raising significant questions about Fourth Amendment violations.
Called the Hemisphere program, the agreement includes placing government-paid AT&T employees within drug investigation units to give police instant access to private telephone records, all based on “administrative subpoenas” issued by the DEA and without court review, The New York Times reports. The calls include all those handled by AT&T—not just AT&T customers—and some go back as far as 26 years, though the program has been in effect about six years. Unlike the NSA data bank, these records include the locations of the callers.
The Obama administration defended the program as part of a years-long effort to track drug dealers seeking to evade detection by using and discarding cellphones, although the government had also used the system in non-drug cases. Unlike the NSA program, the government does not maintain the databank, but it has complete access to it.
Obama administration officials told the Times the program raises no fresh privacy issues, but the American Civil Liberties Union disagreed after viewing a secret presentation about the system obtained by the Times from a Washington State activist who ferreted out the details through the Freedom of Information Act.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
Previous item: Number of Millennials Living at Home Still Increasing
New and Improved Comments