A joint story done by the New York Times and ProPublica cites documents disclosed by infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, dated between 2003 and 2013, which shows that the massive telecommunications provider has had a long-standing partnership with the NSA, accommodating its efforts to spy on its large client base.
The report claims that AT&T has accepted multiple requests by the NSA without so much as arguing with them, such as installing surveillance equipment in 17 of its internet hubs across the entire country. The company also received $10 million from the NSA for its cooperation in the matter, reportedly double than the second largest provider surveillance agreement (thought to be Verizon) received.
The leaks also reportedly reveal that the collaboration between the NSA and AT&T goes as back as 1985, and seems to have been quite amiable, as NSA officials described it as a “partnership” rather than a contractual agreement. As an effect of this, AT&T might have been the first telecommunications provider to offer the NSA with exclusive information, such as communications done entirely between foreigners, some which probably weren’t even AT&T customers (as most of the world’s internet traffic goes through the U.S and AT&T also offer server rental capabilities).
The report notes that AT&T is never mentioned by name in any of the documents, having it replaced with a special codename. But the authors claim that there are multiple lines which line-up the company as AT&T, such as exact market share data from the past, and that sources from within the NSA have confirmed that it is the company being referred to.
While this is the most documented report probably ever released of the cooperation between the NSA and a major national telecommunications provider, the authors point out the fact that it offers no clue to the current state of the program. After the NSA’s surveillance program was revealed, most major providers turned to accusing the agency of intrusion and have tried to distance themselves from the programs.
But what the report shows is that as recently as 2011, the company started delivering over 1.1 billion cellphone calling records per day to the NSA, contradicting the well-established agency argument that it only collected landline records. With the veil of lies from both sides getting thinner, it would be unsurprising to learn that the program continues, albeit at a minimal rate.
strong>Image Source: Mashable