Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has made documents available confirming telecoms giant AT&T was a willing and highly prolific supplier of phone records and internet data to The National Security Agency. The co-operation was carried on for years.
While it was widely known telecoms corporates were providing the NSA with phone records these most recent revelations confirm that AT&T had a somewhat cosy relationship with the NSA. AT&T demonstrated an “extreme willingness”. ProPublica and the New York Times document review described the pairing as highly collaborative.
The documents covered a period of 10 years beginning in 2003. There were also billions of email communications along with phone records taken from AT&T’s domestic network What is also confirmed is the information sharing from it’s networks. NSA had access to phone records from other corporate relationships and networks including ISP’s.
One alarming revelation was was that from 2011 AT&T shared 1.1 billion phone records with the NSA every day. Brad Burns, AT&T spokes person told PBS News Hour that AT&T did not provide phone records to investigative authorities without confirmation of a due mandatory process or court order and/or an individual’s life was in danger.
He further advised that they would make available phone records if an individual was kidnapped i.e. providing assistance to law enforcement with tracing calls. Further to the original revelations by Snowden the press were advised that Americans phone records were from landlines. However these most recent documents seem to discredit this.
Emails between foreign countries are outside the ring fence of U.S. wire tapping laws and so this is seen as enhancing the free flow of information. That being no court order was required and these were given up to the NSA voluntarily. AT&T in 2013 declined to share with it’s stockholders how it had co operated with the intelligence services. AT&T insisted that it wasn’t required to disclose how it handled clients data.
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