AT&T's NSA legal woes continue to grow

May 23, 2006
AT&T logo

AT&T has flatly denied the allegations, but the telecommunications giant continues to be mired by reports that it and other major carriers have gone out of their way to cooperate with the U.S. government to provide information on calls made in the United States.

What's more, technology-focused publication Wired News reported Monday that it had documents assembled by a former employee of the company that prove how AT&T has gone about monitoring Internet traffic and providing the information to the National Security Agency.

Mark Klein, a former technician at AT&T, said that "in 2003, AT&T built 'secret rooms' hidden deep in the bowels of its central offices in various cities, housing computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company's popular WorldNet service and the entire internet. These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the Internet and analyze exactly what people are doing. Documents showing the hardwire installation in San Francisco suggest that there are similar locations being installed in numerous other cities."

He added that "the spying program is vastly bigger and was directly authorized by President Bush, as he himself has now admitted, in flagrant violation of specific statutes and constitutional protections for civil liberties. I am presenting this information to facilitate the dismantling of this dangerous Orwellian project."

Klein provides three internal company documents to back up his case, including a manual from December 2002, all of which had previously been under seal in the federal court of San Francisco, and he is one of the key witnesses for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group that advocates for digital rights that filed a lawsuit against the company as early as this January. The foundation has charged AT&T with "collaborating with the National Security Agency in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications."

In total, Wired published 30 pages of documentation provided by Klein, but so far there has been no evidence that would support the former technician's claims or indeed prove whether the documents that he provided are indeed what they claim to be. For its part, AT&T issued a statement May 11 that suggested that while it would comply with the law, it would not go out of its way to cooperate with the authorities and sacrifice the privacy of its customers.

"We prize the trust our customers place in us. If and when AT&T is asked to help, we do so strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions," AT&T stated.

Similar statements were issued by the two other major carriers, BellSouth and Verizon, about a week after USA Today reported that the three companies have been cooperating with the NSA, even though the agency never provided them with a warrant. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, meanwhile, has so far filed a lawsuit only against AT&T.

For its part, AT&T is seeing the legal charges against it continue to increase. Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed suit Monday against the company for providing phone records of Illinois customers without a court order to the government.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Japan's NTT to buy German data centre operator

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Florentine basilica gets high-tech physical

Feb 26, 2015

Late last year, two University of California, San Diego students set out for Florence, Italy, to diagnose a patient that had no prior medical record, couldn't be poked or prodded in any way, and hadn't been ...

Extreme science in the Arctic

Feb 25, 2015

A research team from Northwestern University was dropped by helicopter in the desolate wilderness of Greenland with four weeks of provisions and the goal of collecting ancient specimens preserved in Arctic lakebeds.

Calorie-burning vest makes use of cold exposure

Feb 12, 2015

"Give fat the cold shoulder." That is the catchy advice in a video of a scientist who believes he is on to something to support weight loss, and that is The Cold Shoulder calorie-burning vest. Dr. Wayne B. ...

Engineer produces free Braille-writer app

Feb 11, 2015

Three years ago, Sohan Dharmaraja was a Stanford engineering doctoral candidate in search of his next project when he visited the Stanford Office of Accessible Education, which helps blind and visually challenged ...

Giving web developers tools to protect their sites and users

Feb 06, 2015

Most Internet users know that practicing good online hygiene – never clicking on spam, choosing strong passwords and setting up two-factor authentication – is essential for protecting their personal information. They ...

Recommended for you

HP's big deal: Tech giant buys Aruba Networks for $2.7B

4 hours ago

Hewlett-Packard is buying wireless networking company Aruba Networks for about $2.7 billion, in what amounts to HP's first major acquisition since its disastrous purchase of a British software company in ...

Japan's NTT to buy German data centre operator

Mar 01, 2015

Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications is looking to acquire German data centre operator e-shelter, as it seeks to cash in on growing demand in Europe, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan

Feb 27, 2015

Google unveiled plans Friday for a new campus headquarters integrating wildlife and sweeping waterways, aiming to make a big statement in Silicon Valley—which is already seeing ambitious projects from Apple ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.