AT&T’s Hemisphere program was built to sell to law enforcement.
We’ve got the data. You (the cops) want the data. We’ll sell you the data. And you don’t even need a search warrant to get it. Sweet deal.
(From The Daily Beast)
Sheriff and police departments pay from $100,000 to upward of $1 million a year or more for Hemisphere access. Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, made its inaugural payment to AT&T of $77,924 in 2007, according to a contract reviewed by The Daily Beast. Four years later, the county’s Hemisphere bill had increased more than tenfold to $940,000.
“Did you see that movie Field of Dreams?” Soghoian asked. “It’s like that line, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Once a company creates a huge surveillance apparatus like this and provides it to law enforcement, they then have to provide it whenever the government asks. They’ve developed this massive program and of course they’re going to sell it to as many people as possible.”
AT&T documents state law enforcement doesn’t need a search warrant to use Hemisphere, just an administrative subpoena, which does not require probable cause. The DEA was granted administrative subpoena power in 1970.