Drug Crimes and Throwaway Cell Phones

Cell phones, potential drug crimes charges and law enforcement – these three things have been all over the news in the past few months.  This past week, a New York Times article revealed that the government has been paying AT&T, through a partnership known as the Hemisphere Project, for a mass amount of phone records dating back to 1987. This project is similar to the NSA’s mass call-tracking program. The Hemisphere project, which until now has been secret, involves large amounts of data mined by the government for calls made, not just by AT&T customers, but if the call went through an AT&T switch, encompassing billions of calls.  This poses serious Fourth Amendment issues.  The government has been allegedly searching all of this data in order to come up with ways to combat criminal activity. If you use a throwaway phone, but also carry another phone that is with a provider – the government can analzye the usage to figure out who is using the throwaway phones and where.  

It will be intesting as time progresses to see how well these intrusive practices hold up in court when we file motions to suppress in drug crimes cases or any criminal case.  But, it will also be interesting to see how long this cozy relationship between corporate america and law enforcement continues.

The DEA has already been using information collected by NSA and Verizon in its drug prosecutions, and were training the agents to “recreate” how they found that data. Since Mr. Snowden revealed what the NSA has been up to, the NSA has revealed its data mining of billions of calls as well.  

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