The scale and longevity of a data storage program run by the government in partnership with AT&T was unmatched by other government programs – including the National Security Agency’s gathering of phone call logs.
For at least six years law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access – using subpoenas – to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
The Hemisphere Project – a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported – involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
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.