Why is AT&T Selling Your Phone Records to the Federal Government?

| September 4, 2013 | 1 Comment

attt dea

Words by Alyson Robinson

It has been revealed that the Drug Enforcement Agency now has access to 26 years worth of phone records through an agreement with AT&T and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

The New York Times recently reported that AT&T has been paid by the DEA since 2007 to give access to all calls that go through the company’s switchboard. AT&T employers are placed in four DEA offices across the country to work with the Hemisphere Project, an unclassified but “law enforcement sensitive” program, to assist officials to track suspects.

“Essentially, the program uses a suspect’s past phone calls to identify associates, and then uses those associates’ recent call patterns to identify the suspect’s new number. Subpoenas are obtained to proceed with each step.” –ABC NEWS

Andrew Hendricks, a Washington peace activist, revealed the program. Hendricks obtained a PowerPoint presentation discussing the details of the program through a Freedom of Information Act request to West Coast police departments. Hendricks said he happened upon them while he was investigating something totally unrelated. He passed them unto the Times, and uploaded them to the Internet.

The question that is being asked is if any of this is even legal? According to Columbia Law professor Daniel C. Richman, this isn’t a massive change in the way the government operates but wonders how it can be this easy for law enforcement to have access to the information.

“I’d speculate that one reason for the secrecy of the program is that it would be very hard to prove it to the public or the courts,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Is the government really after drug dealers or is this just another means of infringing on Americans constitutional right to privacy? While we don’t advocate criminal activity, there appears to be a crime being committed against the American people when their private information is being sold to government agencies.

AT & T…you suck!

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