For over a decade, a secretive program called Data Analytical Services (DAS) has allegedly enabled federal, state, and local law enforcement to surveil millions of U.S. citizens. This program not only tracks the call records of criminals but also extends its surveillance to their families, friends, and numerous individuals not suspected of any criminal activity.
Over a trillion phone calls are purportedly being scrutinized annually, with collaboration extending to federal and state enforcement agencies, as reported.
Wired has disclosed that an American telecommunications company is said to be maintaining an intricate record of each phone call placed, as per the report.
The publication asserts that the company is not just monitoring the details of your phone conversations, such as the recipient's identity, duration, and timing, but is also cataloging the calls made by the individuals you communicate with.
Wired's report indicates that a surveillance initiative named Data Analytical Services (DAS) has purportedly been gathering data from countless phone calls annually in the United States.
This program, previously known as Hemisphere, is reported to be collaborating with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
The specific mechanics of how it operates are not explicitly outlined, but the report raises the question of its operational methodology.
As per Fox News, DAS operates through chain analysis, focusing not only on individuals with whom you engage in phone conversations but also those connected through their own calls, with the aim of identifying contact with potential criminal suspects.
Reportedly, the stored information does not include physical recordings of conversations but rather comprises phone numbers, dates, times, durations, and locations of calls, along with names and addresses, stored for six months or longer.
This approach appears to contradict the USA Freedom Act, implemented in 2015 to reform the National Security Agency's data collection methods of this nature.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Senator Ron Wyden expressed "serious concerns about the legality" of the program, as reported by Wired.
The outlet also states that Senator Wyden mentioned having "troubling information" that could potentially "justifiably outrage many Americans and other members of Congress," although the specifics of this information were not disclosed in the letter.
Wired reported that, based on a two-page memo produced by White House officials, the program purportedly received over $6 million in funding from the White House starting in 2013.
Interestingly, it was previously reported that when The New York Times first brought attention to the program in 2013, former President Barack Obama allegedly halted its funding.
An AT&T spokesperson told UNILAD: “We defer to the Justice Department, to whom Sen. Wyden’s letter is addressed, for comment. Like all companies, we are required by law to comply with subpoenas, warrants and court orders from government and law enforcement agencies.
"To be clear, any information referred to in Sen. Wyden’s letter would be compelled by subpoena, warrant or court order.”
Currently, there is no law mandating AT&T to retain decades of call records specifically for law enforcement purposes.