Nov 12 2013
In a bizarre new twist in the story of government spying, the New York Times last week published a report revealing that the CIA is paying AT&T more than $10 million of American tax dollars to hand over private information on tax payers. Anonymous government officials told the Times that the majority of the information being sold consists of calls made overseas that use its telecom infrastructure.
AT&T is not being subpoenaed or in any other way compelled by the government sell data. Apparently it has entered into this commercial arrangement completely voluntarily. When asked to comment, the company released a statement saying, “In all cases, whenever any government entity anywhere seeks information from us, we ensure that the request and our response are completely lawful and proper. Like all telecom providers, we routinely charge governments for producing the information provided. We do not comment on questions concerning national security.” AT&T has been known to hand over private user data to the government for more than ten years and also routinely works with government agencies like the DEA in drug cases.
The CIA responded to the report by saying, “Under Executive Order 12333, the CIA is expressly forbidden from undertaking intelligence collection activities inside the United States ‘for the purpose of acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of U.S. persons,’ and the CIA does not do so.”
However reports reveal that in cases where the CIA wants to follow up on a call whose origin or endpoint is domestic, it simply requests it via the FBI, which does have domestic jurisdiction.
GUEST: Mark Klein is a retired AT&T employee. In 2007 he made news when he spoke out about what he asserts is AT&T’s collusion with the NSA, allowing the spy agency to vacuum up all data originating from AT&T customers as well as data belonging to other telecom agencies, likely without their consent or knowledge, which used AT&T’s infrastructure.