Another secret program where the US government compiled and stored mountains of call data was revealed in a filing related to a case alleging a man was attempting to illegally export electronic equipment to Iran.
In the filing, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stated that it used "administrative subpoenas" to gather meta-data of US-based calls to foreign countries that were determined to have a demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.
As to which foreign countries were on the list was not revealed, but the DEA did grant that Iran was one of those nations. The filing outlines outgoing call activity, but the program also gathered data of incoming calls to the US from foreign exchanges.
The data collection for this program began in the 1990s and was shut down in August 2013, with the DEA saying that it no longer collects bulk records and that the database has since been deleted.
Naturally, civil liberties and privacy advocates are not pleased with the revelation of this news. Patrick Toomey of the ACLU says this activity proves "the government has extended its use of bulk collection far beyond" terrorism and national security investigations.
The DEA embarked on this program following what could be argued as unintended consequences from a laws passed by Congress to empower the agency in the so-called "war on drugs." However, it is being argued that the DEA has pushed the envelope away from what was intended to be "specific, targeted requests for information" and instead turned things into a dragnet of data collection.