There was an investigation which was undertaken by the Daily Beast which revealed that the largest telecommunications provider in the United States, AT&T, had been involved in the sale of access to data for any calls, locations or the phone numbers of users when asked by various law enforcement agencies.
The investigation managed to find many documents which showed that AT&T was giving access to the consumer’s call data to the police departments so that they could build their cases. The police departments got the access after serving the telecommunications provider with a subpoena and part of the agreement was that the issue should not go public.
The access is apparently being sold for thousands and thousands of dollars and at the moment it seems the one group of people who are losing are the taxpayers. Taxpayers’ own privacy is being breached unknown to them and at the same time, they are having to pay for it to be done to them.
The program of selling data to law enforcement agencies is known in the industry as Hemisphere. The program first started with the Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA, which they used as part of their fight against drug abuse.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 25, 2016
One AT&T spokesperson who was contacted for comment said that when the government issues an order to get information through the courts, then the company has no other option but to do as that which has been requested. The company has information and records which go as far back as seven years ago, therefore it’s no wonder that the police might be looking for the information.
This is also not the first time that data has been given to the law enforcement agencies or gaining and transferring customer data to other parties has not started now. There was a similar case, which was known as the Stingray case which saw multiple devices act as network towers which resulted in user data being taken unlawfully.