Report: The DEA is Paying AT&T for Access to Decades of Phone Records

In addition to the new revelations over the National Security Agency listening to the communications of the Brazilian and Mexican presidents, there is now a New York Times report that a program called the Hemisphere Project, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, involves the U.S. government paying AT&T for access to phone records going all the way back to 1987.

Just how serious is this? The Times report says, somewhat surprisingly, that the “scale and longevity” of this program is “unmatched by other government programs,” including the NSA, because that agency only holds phone metadata for five years. The program encompasses not just AT&T customer calls, but “every call that passes through an AT&T switch,” and the data is in fact stored by AT&T.

AT&T has not yet made any public comment on the program or its involvement in it, simply stating that they are required to respond to “valid subpoenas issued by law enforcement.” The full report is available here, along with this interactive slideshow on the program provided to the Times.

Fox News’ Special Report took on the issue today, with Steve Hayes saying it might trouble Americans more than the NSA scandal and Charles Krauthammer asking the question of how much protection is “worth the sacrifices” to Americans’ civil liberties.

Watch the video here, via Fox News:


Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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