Disconnected? AT&T Earns $10M From The CIA Each Year For Phone Records
Everyday more and more is revealed about the American government spying on its citizens. The latest is that AT&T didn’t just turn over its customers phone records to comply with government requests–the telecommunications giant is getting paid more than $10 million a year by the CIA. According to Business Insider, The New York Times reported this revelation, citing government officials.
The Times also reveals that the arrangement is voluntary and there is no court order requiring the company to cooperate with the CIA.
It is reportedly in an effort by the CIA to track down terrorists and the program differs from controversial data collection by the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA receives phone records or other “meta-data” (which is data about data) from telecommunications companies through court orders.
The CIA gives AT&T phone numbers of suspected militants abroad and AT&T then sorts through its database for records of phone calls that can identify foreigners with terror links, the newspaper reported. And, most of the resulting logs turned in by AT&T are concerning foreign-to-foreign calls, the report notes.
Apparently, for international calls that include one caller in the United States, AT&T does not reveal the identity of the Americans and also hides several digits of their phone numbers. This procedure allows the CIA to comply with a ban on domestic spying.
But the Central Intelligence Agency could opt to refer a hidden number to the FBI, which could then issue a subpoena demanding AT&T reveal the person’s name and full number, according to the report.
AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel would not confirm nor deny the program, but he told Agence France-Presse.
“In all cases, whenever any governmental entity anywhere seeks information from us, we ensure that the request and our response are completely lawful and proper.”
CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz made a similar statement:
“The CIA protects the nation and upholds the privacy rights of Americans by ensuring that its intelligence collection activities are focused on acquiring foreign intelligence and counterintelligence in accordance with US laws.”
Do you believe him?