back to article AT&T helping US drug cops in 'vast, troubling' phone snoop scheme

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has enlisted telecom giant AT&T to develop a massive telephone records database that may put the National Security Agency's domestic phone surveillance to shame. Dubbed the Hemisphere Project, the partnership sees AT&T employees working closely alongside DEA agents to supply them with …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Kevin Fields

    Time to move off the grid?

    How can you trust either a government or private business which hides information form you except to use it against you?

  2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Apparently Treason

    Apparently treason against the US Constitution is now a requirement to be employed in US Federal Law Enforcement.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So forget about presumption of innocence

    Let's be clear, this information is only being retained because the DEA thinks anyone could be a criminal.

    That alone should trouble every lawyer trained in a common law legal system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So forget about presumption of innocence

      @ John Smith 19 "because the DEA thinks anyone could be a criminal."

      Anyone can be a criminal and quite a few people are and I'm sure you will find that they associate with their 'partners' and underground links. I am concerned by the levels of data retention but if they are monitoring a know person surely this helps them to identify links to their criminal associates so they can be investigated too.

      This can be used for a huge amount of good. There is potential for it to be used for other reasons and that is of concern.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Big Brother

        @AC - Re: So forget about presumption of innocence

        "if they are monitoring a know person surely this helps them to identify links to their criminal associates so they can be investigated too"

        And if that person happens to call your number by mistake and you get identified as a "criminal associate" because of a False Positive, how are you going to prove your innocence (because you sure as hell won't be presumed innocent any more)?

        Lots of things can be used for "a huge amount of good" like National DNA databases, ID Cards, country-wide ANPR systems, the fact that they also pi$$ all over fundamental liberties is just an unfortunate side-effect...

        1. Arthur 1
          Thumb Down

          Re: @AC - So forget about presumption of innocence

          Put everyone in solitary confinement at birth! It'll stop ALL crime. Think of how amazing and great an accomplishment ending crime is! Only a dirty commu-hippie-terro-nazi would argue against it!!

      2. Dave Stevens

        Re: So forget about presumption of innocence

        Anyone can be a criminal... all it takes is a few changes to existing laws.

        1. Michael Thibault

          Re: So forget about presumption of innocence

          Anyone can be a criminal... all it takes is a few changes to the (mis-)application of existing laws.


    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: So forget about presumption of innocence

      Unfortunately too many in law enforcement feel most folks are merely criminals who have yet to be caught. In my experience it generally runs from 30% to 60% of any given agency, department or station house and of that percentage about half are themselves criminals. I guess the last group must figure that since they are both criminals and super cops then the average schlub must be axe murders who only eat live human children. Well up until the children are capable of expressing an opinion anyway, at which point they become perps in waiting just like everyone else.

  4. Kai Lockwood
    Thumb Down

    Oh hell...

    Just fired of three signed letters, two were FOIA request to the NSA & DEA requesting all information about what they could possibly be interested by in the phone number. The third to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to express my "sadness" that my Fourth Amendment rights aren't worth the paper their printed on. I wonder who will ignore me the hardest...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Smart move, splitting the opposition.

    So, no-one noticed the timing on this leak? No-one noticed it wasn't a Greenwald-Snowden leak but came from "other" sources? This is a clever attempt to split the opposition to eavesdropping by showing it being used "for good". Many of the soft liberals that were upset by PRISM will hesitate to condemn the use of similar tech against drug dealers and their gangs. The anarchists will continue to shriek and bleat but they'll suddenly find themselves without as vocal support from the liberals.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      @Matt Bryant - Re: Smart move, splitting the opposition.

      If they're so clever to "split the opposition" they should have included Kiddie Fiddlers and Terrorists because we "soft liberals" are so dumb that we can't see this tactic for what it is.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: @Matt Bryant - Smart move, splitting the opposition.

        ".... they should have included Kiddie Fiddlers and Terrorists because we "soft liberals" are so dumb...." They already did and you anarchists didn't bat an eyelid. This new tack is obviously aimed at soft liberals, not dumb anarchists.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Funny how those who defend destroying privacy can only do it with anonymity

    If that's what you really think have the guts to put your name on the post.

  7. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Given bomb threats and impersonating an officer don't fall under drug enforcement, can we at least be honest and say this spy program is an equal opportunity rectal exam?

  8. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Streamline THIS!

    A Justice Department spokesman told the NYT that Hemisphere "simply streamlines the process of serving the subpoena to the phone company so law enforcement can quickly keep up with drug dealers when they switch phone numbers to try to avoid detection,"

    The Fuzz: "Hey, Telco...we need a bunch of records on Joe Reefer's phone calls over the last, say, 10 years. Whacha got?"

    MegaCorporoAT&T: "Uhhh...sure....if you have the right paperwork. You got a subpoena or something.

    The Fuzz: "Well, I got this here paper that says 'Hemisphere' on it. Nothing else but 'Hemisphere'. Is that good enough.

    MegaCorporoAT&T: "Hey, no problem! Waddya need?"

    Yup, streamlined, alright.

  9. Gray

    Perhaps now is the time to reconsider the Pledge of Allegiance:

    "I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the Corporate State of America, and to the Totality for which it Stands, one Enterprise over All, Unassailable, with Suspicion and Surveillance of All."

    1. Old Handle

      At least we finally have God out of it.

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    AT&T very complicit

    Oh, AT&T is very complicit in these types of operations. The initial leaks regarding the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional spying programs leaked out about 10 years ago, about the NSA having equipment within some AT&T switching centers. (It was assumed that other companys probably had similar equipment except Qwest.) But, articles at the time also pointed out AT&T did initial development on the R programming language (which is a nice statistical analysis language) for analyzing call records, and handed this work over wholesale to the NSA et. al.

    This is the one part that bothered me about none of the telcos being found accountable for their cooperation in illegal programs... it wasn't like EVERY phone co that participated, one at least did refuse. Qwest, the CEO of Qwest refused to participate in these programs, pointing out handing over data without a warrant is illegal. The feds cancelled a few big upcoming contracts, then about a year later got him removed for insider trading, claiming he knew BEFORE HE EVEN TALKED TO THE FEDS that these contracts would be pulled. The courts pulled the same tricks they are pulling with the ACLU's ongoing case (where they claimed even the information published in the New York Times is classified and therefore inadmissible as evidence), so when the CEO tried to point out when he'd talked to the feds to establish a timeline, this info was deemed inadmissible.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019