Feeds

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

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

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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." ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
Google eyes business service in latest Fiber trials
Lucky Kansas City buggers to host yet another pilot program
Huawei exec: 'Word of mouth' will beat Apple and Samsung in Europe
World Mobile Telephone Factory No.3 won't fling the big bucks around just yet
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.