Ever since surveillance programs ran by the NSA and other government agencies, the idea of privacy in an ever-more connected world has become clouded. There are countless examples of data breaches since then that have highlighted the need to stay sharp online, look over your shoulder and make sure that nobody but you has access to your personal account. The average user now takes better care of their privacy online than they ever have done, but in a lot of cases, there's little we can do about how we connect to the Internet to access these services. According to a new report, AT&T is apparently selling information to the Government and Law Enforcement, and unsurprisingly, they don't want that to become public knowledge.
According to The Daily Beast, AT&T has developed their own "product" called "Project Hemisphere", which allows Law Enforcement to effectively purchase information to help with an investigation, and AT&T is reportedly making quite a bit of profit from all of this. The Daily Beast cites the investigation of the murder of the McStay family who had been missing for three years in Victorville, California. Local Law Enforcement didn't have enough to bring in prime suspect Charles Merritt, but after reaching out to AT&T, Project Hemisphere helped the investigators put Merritt in the right place at the right time, allowing the investigation to go forward and successfully arrest Merrit, who is now awaiting trial for the murder of the McStay family.
Project Hemisphere is a name that's been heard before, as it was featured back in 2013 to help Law Enforcement to crack down on drugs. According to these reports however, Project Hemisphere has been used in everything from the aforementioned murder case to small violations of Medicaid fraud. AT&T keeps records that go all the way back to 2008, which is a lot longer than the yeear's worth Verizon is understood to keep on hand, and while AT&T is trying to keep the project on the quiet, it doesn't look like AT&T will be able to for much longer, as these leaked documents don't give them much of a choice but to come clean. This is unlikely to happen of course, but with the Time Warner deal hanging in the balance, the timing of this report could not be any worse.