Feeds

AT&T turns spying on customers for CIA into cash waterfall – report

Telco runs $10m-a-year snooping contract, whisper sources

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Central Intelligence Agency is reportedly paying AT&T the princely sum of $10m a year in exchange for a detailed list of international calls made on its networks.

Several government officials familiar with the program told The New York Times that the system is a voluntary one by the company, and was set up in 2010. It apparently allows the CIA to provide a list of numbers used by suspects to the US telco, which then identifies other numbers contacted and who they called afterwards.

The CIA's remit begin "at the water's edge," meaning it can only act on suspects outside of US soil. To keep this program legal if a number comes up that belongs to a US citizen then AT&T blanks out the details, although the CIA can then ask the FBI to investigate.

Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, told the NYT: "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 has had problems with spying on its customers in the past. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the company allowed the NSA to install monitoring stations in its San Francisco headquarters. After Mark Klein, one of AT&T's engineers, blew the whistle on the practice the telco was sued by the EFF before the government granted it retroactive immunity.

While apparently legal, the CIA's deal with the company does show some serious initiative by the company in turning surveillance into a revenue source. That said, the NSA does also fund companies taking part in the PRISM surveillance scheme to cover expenses, according to documents leaked by ex-intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden.

"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 CIA spokesman Dean Boyd.

"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 US persons,' and the CIA does not do so." ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.