Since 2007, DEA agents and local detectives have had access to a database that contains records of every phone call made through AT&T since 1987. That's 26 years worth of call records.
The program, called the Hemisphere Project, has been carried out in secret for these agents since at least 2007. Hemisphere Project contains records of every phone call that has gone through an AT&T switch in those 26 years, which include phone numbers, duration of calls, and the location they were made—with about 4 billion new calls being added to the database each day. AT&T employees under the program are also paid to work alongside DEA agents in three states. “I’d speculate that one reason for the secrecy of the program is that it would be very hard to justify it to the public or the courts,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Justice Department defended the program, saying that the government doesn't store the information, only AT&T, and are only accessible by getting administrative subpoenas. “[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,” said Justice Department spokesperson, Brian Fallon.
Sprint and T-Mobile didn't answer the New York Times when asked if they participated in these types of programs.
[via New York Times]