By now, most people are aware that AT&T doesn’t do a great job of respecting customer privacy. They’ve been caught conducting mass surveillance on citizens numerous times, with no transparency into the programs in place. And now, just when it seemed their surveillance couldn’t get any worse or more invasive, it has.
As reported by the Daily Beast last week, AT&T built their own surveillance network and has been conducting “NSA-syle” surveillance for years, selling the information collected for a profit. Their initiative is called Project Hemisphere, and secretly searches “trillions of call records and analyzes cellular data to determine where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why.” The data collected under Project Hemisphere is sold to law enforcement and offered without a warrant; the only stipulation is law enforcement protect the identity of Project Hemisphere when using the information in investigations.
Although the scope of Project Hemisphere and the fact data is sold for profit is shocking, the actual surveillance aspect is not – AT&T has repeatedly conducted surveillance in the past. AT&T first allowed the government to surveil citizens by tapping into their network in the now-infamous Room 641a in San Francisco – an incident which was actually the impetus for Golden Frog’s founding. Last year it was revealed that AT&T had been helping the NSA spy on users for over 10 years, engaging in a willing partnership to conduct warrantless surveillance over their networks and view the emails of billions of users. AT&T owns more than 3/4 of landline switches in the United States, and the second-largest share of the United States’ wireless infrastructure and cellphone towers, so the company’s reach is enormous.
AT&T’s activities represent a disturbing pattern of warranteless mass surveillance and data collection. Their actions are concenring, as they violate the privacy rights of the millions of people that utilize their networks while communicating.
Source: The Daily Beast