While the NSA is over here attempting to come up with better and sleeker ways in order to spy on you and America's allies, the CIA has it easy thanks to AT&T.
For $10 million a year, AT&T just straight up GIVES the CIA user call data when they ask for it. The information is used for counterterrorism efforts, and AT&T reportedly gives over information after the CIA gives them phone numbers to suspected terrorists. No word if AT&T has a review process for what is considered a suspected terrorist, or just takes what the CIA says at face value. (Hey, if they were giving you $10 mill a year, would you be asking questions?) In the report, though, sources close to the matter say that the calls usually involve foreigners to foreigners, and when it does involve a call with one end in the United States, AT&T won't give up the identity of the American, and will hide several digits of the phone number. When AT&T does mask those numbers, the CIA then just needs to send a call over to the FBI, who will then subpoena AT&T into handing over the numbers, then share it with the CIA.
“The CIA protects the nation and upholds privacy rights of Americans by ensuring that its intelligence collection activities are focused on acquiring foreign intelligence and counterintelligence in accordance with U.S. laws,” said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the agency. “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.”
AT&T said in a statement that it routinely charges countries to give up this type of information. “We ensure that we maintain customer information in compliance with the laws of the United States and other countries where information may be maintained,” the statement said. “Like all telecom providers, we routinely charge governments for producing the information provided.”
Hey, maybe AT&T should use that extra money to keep our phone bills down. That's the very, very least they could do.
[via New York Times]