Undercover surveillance program Data Analytical Services (DAS), managed by AT&T, has been collecting and analyzing more than one trillion domestic phone data annually in the United States. Using chain analysis, the computer zeroes in on anyone communicating with criminal suspects. This implies that police may access and review the phone data of innocent individuals who aren’t involved in any crime.
The DAS program jeopardizes millions of Americans’ right to privacy and civic freedoms. The Fourth Amendment, which forbids arbitrary searches and seizures, is violated since it runs without public accountability or judicial review. Furthermore, the operation goes against the principles of the USA Freedom Act, a law introduced in 2015 to reform the NSA’s mass collection of phone information. To comply with the legislation, the NSA could no longer get phone data in bulk but had to obtain them from phone companies via court orders on an individual basis.
Nonetheless, AT&T can gather and retain the information for policing reasons because of the DAS program, which gets around this rule.
The “high-intensity drug trafficking area” (HIDTA) program, which is run by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), is responsible for funding the DAS program. In 2013, after the program’s first exposure in The New York Times, former President Obama cut funding. However, individual police departments could keep signing contracts with AT&T to utilize the service as they like.
Legislators and activists have voiced grave worries, prompting them to urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine and probe the program.
You may avoid being monitored by AT&T by using encryption, finding other ways to communicate that don’t include their network or infrastructure, or using privacy practices and technologies that can conceal or minimize your digital footprint.
The DAS program may still be able to access your phone records and use chain analysis or other ways to connect them to your true identity, so these tools and procedures may not be sufficient to safeguard you.