Millions of Americans Under Surveillance in Hidden Phone Monitoring Program

Each phone call that you make will be meticulously recorded, encompassing the identity of the caller as well as the time, location, and duration of the conversation. 

To further elaborate, they are also monitoring the calls of the individuals with whom they converse and your own. This is a reality for millions of Americans who use the AT&T phone network; it is not science fiction.

Formerly referred to as Hemisphere, Data Analytical Services (DAS) has been clandestinely accumulating and analyzing more than one trillion domestic phone records annually within the United States.

AT&T, together with state, federal, and local law enforcement agencies, executes this program with minimal visibility.

DAS employs chain analysis, which targets anyone within the communication network of criminal suspects, not just those in direct contact with them. 

This means that the phone records of unsuspecting individuals with no connection to unlawful activities may be scrutinized.

This program provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to access contact records by utilizing AT&T’s extensive nationwide infrastructure. 

In addition to locations, phone numbers, dates, times, and durations, the documents also include the names and addresses of subscribers.

Existence of the DAS program raises significant concerns regarding the privacy and civil liberties of millions of Americans. 

By functioning without judicial supervision or public scrutiny, it violates the Fourth Amendment, a constitutional provision that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

It violates the tenets of the USA Freedom Act, which was passed in 2015 to reform the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records.

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The Enigmatic DAS Program

Each phone call that you make will be meticulously recorded, encompassing the identity of the caller as well as the time, location, and duration of the conversation.

Regardless of its wide-ranging influence, the DAS program has operated quietly. According to reports, it has been in operation for more than ten years, receiving White House funding in excess of $6 million. 

The budget for the program has experienced its fair share of political volatility. Subsequent to its exposure by The New York Times, it was suspended by President Barack Obama in 2013. However, it was subsequently reinstated by President Donald Trump in 2017, averted by another arrest in 2021, and resumed under President Biden in the same year.

In the face of opposition from legislators, activists, litigation, and public records requests, the DAS program has evaded scrutiny by frequently asserting that AT&T, not the government, is the proprietor of the phone records, and thus they are shielded by law enforcement privileges and trade secrets.

To protect oneself from the DAS program’s intrusive eyes, one may utilize encryption, investigate alternative communication methods, or implement privacy tools and practices. 

Apps employing end-to-end encryption, such as Telegram, Signal, or WhatsApp, can protect call content but not call metadata. Security can be further enhanced by utilizing privacy tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) or communication methods that are not affiliated with AT&T.

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