The revelation of AT&T’s spying program is “more terrifying than the illegal NSA surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed,” according to Evan Greer, the campaign director for non-profit digital rights organization Fight for the Future.
“AT&T customers are outraged but this affects everyone,” said Greer in an interview with Newsweek. “AT&T went far beyond complying with legal government requests and actually built a powerful data mining product to sell our private information to as many government agencies and police departments as they could.”
“The for-profit spying program that these documents detail is more terrifying than the illegal NSA surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed” he continued. “If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future.”
AT&T’s alleged spying program was revealed by the Daily Beast, who claimed that under the codename “Project Hemisphere” AT&T granted law enforcement agencies access to “trillions of phone call records and cellular data to locate a specific user.”
Hemisphere is reportedly deployed in approximately 28 intelligence centers in the US, many of which collaborate with the DEA. The centers are monitored by both federal agents as well as local law enforcement; however data analysis is done by AT&T employees on behalf of the law enforcement agencies in order to keep law enforcement and federal agents from ever directly accessing AT&T’s data personally.
The Daily Beast claims that departments pay from $100,000 to over $1 million just to access project Hemisphere’s huge library of data and content. AT&T documents further state that a search warrant is not needed to access Hemisphere, just an administrative subpoena, a document that does not require probable cause to be issued.