A DEA and AT&T program to search call records of Americans (records that date back to 1987). Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan for the New York Times:
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
What’s happening is that administrative subpoenas (i.e. not from a court) are issued to AT&T directly and implanted AT&T employees search a 20+ year database of all calls passing through AT&T switches. This data is use to catch Americans and non-Americans alike who are suspected of committing crimes.
Now the important difference to the NSA here is that AT&T is storing the data, not the government. Another important difference is that the data goes back to 1987 and grows by 4 billion records a day — whereas the NSA only keeps data for 5 years.
Yet another government program to watch out for. I do wonder how communications like Skype/Facebook/Google Hangouts/FaceTime affect this type of tracking.1 That is, these services are essentially internet traffic so I have to wonder if the smarter criminal strategy is to move from burner phones to encrypted IP based communications…
Yeah, Skype is compromised, but by the NSA not DEA. ↩