Snowden and others warned us. The US government has been spying on citizens at the federal, state, and local levels. Telecommunications company AT&T partnered with Data Analytical Services (DAS) to provide them with our digital footprints. The government is targeting everyone under the assumption that every American is a criminal.
They speak of the Stasi as if that was a time long ago and forgotten. Trillions of phone records are in the hands of government permanently. AT&T received indirect financing grants for its participation in the mass surveillance program. The government could target a criminal, or their neighbors, relatives, someone merely in their phone contacts list, or even the victim of a crime. The local cop could ping in to see his girlfriend’s phone location, for example. Warrants are no longer required.
US Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter of “serious concerns about the legality” of DAS to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, obtained by Wired. Wyden said the program “would justifiably outrage many Americans and other members of Congress.” The DAS has expanded after project Hemisphere, the previous government surveillance program that has been largely scrubbed from record. Obama began Hemisphere in 2013 and also partnered with AT&T for data-mining services. Trump reinstated and later halted the program, while Biden refunded and recharged the initiative. Hemisphere was simply renamed to DAS since the cover was blown.
DAS operates under a program called HIDTA, which is dedicated to drug trafficking and the ongoing lost war on drugs. But they are not limited to tapping the phones of alleged drug dealers or buyers. DAS bypasses numerous laws by claiming they are not wiretapping citizens, which would require a warrant. They claim they are merely storing data instead of conversations. They are able to track locations using this data as well. “The scale of the data available to and routinely searched for the benefit of law enforcement under the Hemisphere Project is stunning in its scope,” Wyden’s letter to Garland says.
The government also has access to our email history. They can search as far back as 1987 if that data is available. The program knows if someone switches numbers and everyone has the potential to be targeted. Technically, these law enforcement agencies need a subpoena, which is easy to obtain and often bypassed. Of most concern is that data exists, and the government has a verifiable way to track citizens’ whereabouts at all times without reason of suspicion.