US Law Enforcement Also Conducting Mass Telephone Surveillance
Late last year, in a criminal case involving export violations, the US government disclosed a mysterious database of telephone call records that it had queried in the case.
The defendant argued that the database was the NSA’s, and that the query was unconditional and the evidence should be suppressed. The government said that the database was not the NSA’s. As part of the back and forth, the judge ordered the government to explain the call records database.
Someone from the Drug Enforcement Agency did that last week. Apparently, there’s another bulk telephone metadata collection program and a “federal law enforcement database” authorized as part of a federal drug trafficking statute:
This database [redacted] consisted of telecommunications metadata obtained from United Stated telecommunications service providers pursuant to administrative subpoenas served up on the service providers under the provisions of 21 U.S.C. 876. This metadata related to international telephone calls originating in the United States and calling [redacted] designated foreign countries, one of which was Iran, that were determined to have a demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.
The program began in the 1990s and was “suspended” in September 2013.
EDITED TO ADD (1/19): Another article.