DEA-AT&T partnership shows close ties between government and telco

Venture Beat

It seems the U.S. government and AT&T are much closer than we thought.  The Drug Enforcement Agency has access to 26 years of call data for all calls  that run through AT&T’s switches, according to leaked documents detailing the program.

The documents, acquired by the New York Times, reveal a program called  Hemisphere, which was formed in 2007. AT&T created a huge database of all  the calls that pass through its switches, including both customer and  non-customer calls. Through this program, the government is able to subpoena  that data and even pays AT&T employees to sit in drug enforcement offices to help with the data collection progress.

The New York Times received these documents from a peace activist named Drew  Hendricks, who received the Hemisphere PowerPoint presentation after filing a  public records request.

The slides specifically say that Hemisphere is an “unclassified program,”  though they also instruct anyone coming in contact with Hemisphere to hide its  existence. This includes keeping the Hemisphere name off of any official  documents and consulting a special analyst when it is impossible to “wall off”  Hemisphere. The analyst may then file a separate subpoena.

The DEA and law enforcement then use that information for the most part to  find drug dealers who often use “burner” phones — throw-away cell phones that  they change periodically to keep police off their trail. The AT&T data  seemingly helps law enforcement stay on top of these criminals.

There have been some cases where the information is used outside of the scope  of drugs. A “success stories” section of the slides details how police found and  arrested a group of burglars using Hemisphere data.


2 thoughts on “DEA-AT&T partnership shows close ties between government and telco

  1. Now doesn’t that just make you wonder how many of our Congressmen and women and Senators are aware of Hemisphere and condones it! Damn these government basturds and damn obamas sorry ass to hell and holder with him! I am not advocating anticriminal actions but the scope of this is way out of bounds! Fucking low life law enforcement are incapable of doing their jobs bye the book and the law so they themselves become criminals that are never punished for their breach of the laws!
    They should be put in prison with those that they were responsible for incarcerating!

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