Does The CIA Pay AT&T $10 Million A Year To "Surrender" Phone Logs?

In a mirror image of the NSA's wanton invasion of privacy - whether 'enabled' by privacy policy 'small print' or not - NYTimes Charlie Savage claims that the CIA pays the US' 2nd largest telecom company, AT&T, $10 million a year in exchange for voluntarily handing over troves of phone logs. This has been going on since at least 2010 and while the CIA is forbidden from "acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of US persons," AT&T has indeed been handing over information pertaining to American citizens.




Via Russia Today,



Citing federal officials with knowledge of the program, The Times’ Charlie Savage wrote that telecommunication giant AT&T has been routinely collaborating in CIA investigations by surrendering phone records to the agency and even scouring vast archives of dated logs on their behalf since at least 2010, adding yet another scandalous chapter in the sordid story of the telecom’s long-lasting and often elusive relationship with the government.


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done through a voluntary contract in which AT&T is awarded millions of dollars annually in exchange for searching its databases for the CIA in instances where the agency provides the phone number of an overseas terrorism suspect whose contacts are then called into question.


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Representatives for both the CIA and AT&T declined to confirm the existence of the program to the Times, with the intelligence agency acknowledging that it is forbidden from “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of US persons.”  According to Savage, however, AT&T has indeed handed over information pertaining to American citizens, the likes of which are supposedly subject to privacy safeguards — that could then be bypassed by other US agencies.


Most of the call logs provided by AT&T involve foreign-to-foreign calls, but when the company produces records of international calls with one end in the United States, it does not disclose the identity of the Americans and ‘masks’ several digits of their phone numbers,” Savage said officials told him.


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Speaking on behalf of the CIA, spokesman Dean Boyd told the Times that the agency “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 US laws.”


“We value our customers’ privacy and work hard to protect it by ensuring compliance with the law in all respects. We do not comment on questions concerning national security,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel added.


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A caveat says that AT&T will indeed share personal information, however, to “Comply with court orders, subpoenas, lawful discovery requests and other legal or regulatory requirements, and to enforce our legal rights or defend against legal claims.” Another says information could be shared with “a responsible governmental entity in emergency or exigent circumstances or in situations involving immediate danger of death or serious physical injury.”


According to Savage’s sources, however, no court order is necessary for the sort of specific collaboration cited in the Times, and the exchange of millions of dollars annually suggests that the relationship is one that involves legitimate business transactions — with one party being the intelligence arm of the United States.


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Elsewhere in their Privacy Policy, AT&T acknowledges, “We share your Personal Information with companies that perform services for us” and adds “we cannot guarantee that your Personal Information will never be disclosed in a manner inconsistent with this Policy.”


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