According to a recent letter sent by US senator Ron Wyden to the Department of Justice, a surveillance program called Data Analytical Services (DAS) has allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to mine the details of Americans’ calls, many of whom are not suspected of a crime, and even some who are victims, Dell Cameron and Dhruv Mehrotra report for Wired. Using a technique known as chain analysis, the program, which is run in coordination with the telecom giant AT&T, targets not only those in direct phone contact with a criminal suspect but anyone with whom those individuals have been in contact as well.
For the past decade, the White House has provided more than $6 million to the program. In his letter to the DOJ, Wyden wrote that he had “serious concerns about the legality” of the DAS program, which agencies use to monitor the call records of not only criminal suspects, but of their spouses, children, parents, and friends. Maintained under an affiliated program called HIDTA, funded by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy Allegedly, DAS data is allegedly only only meant to be used to target drug trafficking, but has been used by local police agencies for unsolved cases seemingly unrelated to drugs. It is not currently known how far back the call records accessible under DAS go.