Is AT&T Spying On Its Users?

Posted: Oct 25 2016, 6:01pm CDT | by


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Is AT&T Spying on Its Users?
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In 2013, the Victorville, California sheriff's office was able to solve a murder mystery using something called Project Hemisphere. Project Hemisphere is a secret program from AT&T that has the ability to search through trillions of call records to determine where a person is at any given time. The project was revealed by the New York TImes and was described only once by a Powerpoint presentation made by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Times said that it was a "partnership" between AT&T and the US government. The Justice Department countered that it was an essential counter-narcotics tool.

However, The Daily Beast has found that Hemisphere was used on many other different kinds of cases as well.

It isn't a partnership, as has been described, but rather an AT&T product that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It doesn't require a warrant, just a guarantee that the police departments using it won't reveal their sources.

All of this information comes as the company tries to acquire Time Warner, a deal that has faced vocal opposition from many people.

Telecommunications companies are legally required to hand over information they may have, but AT&T may have crossed a line and monetized the system, according to ACLU technology policy analyst Christopher Soghoian.

“Companies have to give this data to law enforcement upon request, if they have it. AT&T doesn’t have to data-mine its database to help police come up with new numbers to investigate,” Soghoian said.

AT&T isn't the only company that holds information, though it does hold it for far longer than many other companies.

According to a statement of work from 2014, AT&T wants to keep Hemisphere.

“The Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence,” it says.

The EFF, American Civil Liberties Union, and Electronic Privacy Information Center have all said that this project is unconstitutional.

AT&T spokesperson Fletcher Cook told The Daily Beast that “Like other communications companies, if a government agency seeks customer call records through a subpoena, court order or other mandatory legal process, we are required by law to provide this non-content information, such as the phone numbers and the date and time of calls."

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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