Feeds

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

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

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." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.