Big Brother, anyone?
The latest in the whole government surveillance fiasco exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in recent years—where Americans learned just how sneaky the feds had become against those not even suspected of criminal behaviors—ropes in one of the country’s largest private companies.
The telecom giant AT&T.
“Project Hemisphere,” the Daily Beast reported, “is a secretive program run by AT&T that searches trillions of call records and analyzes cellular data to determine where a target is located, with whom he speaks and potentially why.”
Project Hemisphere was first revealed in 2013 by the New York Times, which mentioned it in passing in a report of a Powerpoint presentation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The newspaper called it a “partnership” between the feds and AT&T.
But the Daily Beast found the program went actually far and beyond what was billed by the New York Times as a necessary tool in the war on drugs.
It’s actually been tapped to investigate everything from local homicides to widespread Medicaid fraud. And the bigger problem is that it’s largely unconstitutional.
As the Daily Beast wrote: “Hemisphere isn’t a ‘partnership’ but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company’s massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.”
A spokesman for the company told the Daily Beast, however, not to worry – that nobody was creating and maintaining any type of database on innocent Americans whose information may be among the Hemisphere collections. At the same time: Local police are paying big bucks to access Hemisphere files.
One source in the Daily Beast article said, of the project: “Did you see that movie, Field of Dreams? It’s like that like, ‘if you build it, they will come.'”
Source: Daily Beast