Move Over, NSA: DEA Uses Bigger Phone-Call Database
AT&T workers embedded with anti-drug units
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2013 2:30 AM CDT
Updated Sep 2, 2013 5:30 AM CDT
The slideshow explaining the project mentions many DEA success stories.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

(Newser) – The Drug Enforcement Administration has been working closely with AT&T to access a database of American phone calls that dwarfs the NSA's controversial data-collecting efforts, the New York Times finds. In the "Hemisphere Project," which began in 2007, AT&T employees are embedded in anti-drug units across the country and supply them with phone call records from as far back as 1987, using a gargantuan database that collects four billion new records every day. The project covers not just calls made by AT&T users, but every call that goes through an AT&T switch.

The project has been kept hush-hush, but a slideshow explaining it was obtained by a Washington state peace activist who submitted public information requests to police agencies. A Justice Department spokesman says the project "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" and stresses that the phone data is stored by the phone company, not the government. Legal experts and privacy advocates, however, says the scope of the project and the deep involvement of government agents in the process raises constitutional issues.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
BigBucksFL
Sep 3, 2013 12:17 AM CDT
SEIG HEIL ! ! ! ! ! The Nazi tactics exposed within US government. I have been telling people about this abuse since the 90's and very few believed me. The same with e-mails and if you missed it, the US post office also photographs EVERY piece of mail that goes through the system. CAN ANYONE SAY 1984 ? ? ? Government agencies also have the ability to turn on your camera on your cell phone or computer and if you get the planned new TV's with a camera, that as well, and photograph, record or moniter your activities. But not just the camera, but the microphones in those devices as well so they can also listen. Anyone who thinks this is not the likes of Orwell's 1984 best read it again. Only when we rise up and DEMAND this activity stop, will we truly have a real shot at once again being a free people. Until then, we are just the mindless drones of the beurocracy. "Those willing to surrender freedom for security, will get and deserve neither." Look up that quote.
fred.lapides
Sep 2, 2013 10:31 AM CDT
I am not convinced bhy the rash headline of this article. We know know DEA and AT&T but where is there a full lisiting of calls scarfed by NSA so we can see who is Number One!
crankydude
Sep 2, 2013 9:58 AM CDT
Stay posted, there is going to be an Olympic competition among all agencies of the Gestapo DEA, TSA, FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF, Secret Service, Deutschland Security, et. al. with Emerald, Ruby and Diamond awards