US Law Enforcement Is Still Amassing Citizens’ Phone Data
Law enforcement at all levels can get call metadata from AT&T by simply paying for it
US law enforcement at every level—local, state, and federal—just can't get enough of our phone records, whether we're suspected of a crime or just connected to someone who is. And DAS (Data Analytical Services), operating in cooperation with AT&T, has been happy to provide them.
DAS, formerly known as Hemisphere, retains and analyzes some trillions of phone records, stretching back decades—metadata for nearly every call that traverses AT&T’s nigh-ubiquitous network. DAS’s predecessor began as part of a program under the executive branch’s ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy). Its official funding has waxed and waned under the past several administrations, but it also earns revenue by providing data to agencies, from postal inspectors to customs officers and more. To be clear: call contents can only be acquired with a warrant, but call information—locations, length, date and time, and the caller’s names and phone numbers does not require one.