HEMISPHERE : DEA Has Been Secretly Snooping on More Phone Calls Than Even the NSA
Report: DEA Has Been Secretly Snooping on More Americans’ Phone Calls Than Even the NSA
By Matt Welch | Reason
The New York Times last night published an article that should put to rest the debate over whether we live in a free country.
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.
How is this even remotely legal in a country whose Constitution secures "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," meaning a search or seizure without a warrant based "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"?
Read the full article at: reason.com
Hemisphere Project: AT&T Hosting Massive User Database for DEA
By Jon Queally | CommonDreams
The federal government, working in partnership with the private telecommunications giant AT&T, maintains an elaborate database of phone user data that surpasses anything even the NSA is using, according to new reporting by the New York Times.
Based on documents obtained by a New York citizen via a Freedom of Information Act request, the Times says that "for at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls."
Details of the program were made available in a series of slides released as part of the FOIA disclosure and are viewable here.
The secretive program, which has never been reported on before, raises significant privacy and constitutional concerns, the ACLU’s deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer says. "One reason for the secrecy of the program is that it would be very hard to justify it to the public or the courts,” stated Jaffer.
As the Times reports—and Jaffer notes as of particular concern—the program, called Hemisphere Project, shows a deep coordination between private industry and government surveillance practices. According to the Times:
The project comes to light at a time of vigorous public debate over the proper limits on government surveillance and on the relationship between government agencies and communications companies. It offers the most significant look to date at the use of such large-scale data for law enforcement, rather than for national security.
The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act.
Read the full article at: commondreams.org
NSA Leak Vindicates AT&T Whistleblower
By David Kravets | Wired
[06.27.13] Today’s revelations that the National Security Agency collected bulk data on the email traffic of millions of Americans provides startling evidence for the first time to support a whistleblower’s longstanding claims that AT&T was forwarding global internet traffic to the government from secret rooms inside its offices.
The collection program, which lasted from 2001 to 2011, involved email metadata — the “enveloped” information for email that reveals the sender’s address and recipient, as well as IP addresses and websites visited, the Guardian newspaper reported today.
Whistleblower Mark Klein provided this photo of a secret room in a San Francisco AT&T switching center, which he claimed housed data-mining equipment that forwarded internet traffic to the NSA.
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, revealed in 2006 that his job duties included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to a secret room in AT&T’s San Francisco office. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabins were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, he said.
The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, Klein said.
That’s how the data was being vacuumed to the government, Klein said today.
Read the full article at: wired.com
READ: Revealed: NSA Hacked into Email, Phones of Latin American Presidents
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