Democrat senator says government's mass phone surveillance program could be illegal

 November 21, 2023

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has asked the DOJ to make information public about its Data Analytical Services (DAS), previously known as Hemisphere, saying it might be illegal. 

The program has allowed the DOJ to access large numbers of citizens' phone records without warrants, even if they are not a suspect in any crime, but could be involved in drug trafficking or sales.

Wyden has characterized it as “the ability to request often-warrantless searches of trillions of domestic phone records. ”

“I have serious concerns about the legality of this surveillance program, and the materials provided by the DOJ contain troubling information that would justifiably outrage many Americans and other members of Congress,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Merrick Garland at the DOJ.

A trillion records a year

The program has been in use since 2009 and Wyden estimates that federal, state, and local law enforcement may be using it to access a trillion phone records every year.

According to WIRED, which broke the story after being given information by Wyden, local law enforcement has used the service to obtain information when there was no connection to drugs.

“This surveillance program is not classified,” Wyden wrote. “The public interest in an informed debate about government surveillance far outweighs the need to keep this information secret.”

“This is a long-running dragnet surveillance program in which the White House pays AT&T to provide all federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies the ability to request often-warrantless searches of trillions of domestic phone records,” Wyden wrote.

Could be abused even more

If the program is already being used in ways it was never intended, it is only bound to happen more as time goes on.

The left is a few congressional or judicial seats away from making some things criminal that could lead to the use of this program against conservatives.

For example, if it becomes criminal for a Christian pastor to refuse to perform a gay wedding, or for a church to refuse to admit members of the LGBTQ community, this law could be used to target those people.

If anyone so much as speaks out against transgender surgeries for minor children, it could become a cause to spy on them in order to target them.

Preventing abuse

If the program is illegal, getting rid of it now would prevent this type of future abuse from occurring as well as stopping any abuse of the program now.

The fact that a Democrat recognizes this is surprising, but a welcome development.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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