Federal Drug Sweeps Involving Phone-Call Data Face Federal Court Challenge


Defense attorneys in a San Francisco federal criminal case here accuse the government of using a secretive program to tap illegally into massive amounts of phone-call data, in what could be the first legal test of the antidrug initiative, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The program, called Hemisphere, involves AT&T employees placed at three U.S. narcotics-intelligence centers around the U.S., where they can respond to subpoenas for phone data of suspected drug traffickers. Defense lawyers argue that the program violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. Rafael Lemaitre of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said it “entails seeking court orders or subpoenas for a suspect’s phone records, which is an ordinary, bread-and-butter tactic” in criminal investigations.

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