A newly Snowden-released document concerning the NSA sheds new light on the agency’s ‘partnership’ with telecom giant AT&T.
Throughout the longstanding relationship, the document reveals, NSA has used AT&T capabilities to not only have access and collect bulk phone records, but also to spy on large amounts of Internet traffic, including billions of emails exchanged.
It comes as no news that telecom companies on U.S. soil have been under the NSA’s grip for a long time, some trying to loosen this grip to the best of intentions. AT&T’s partnership with the spying agency seems to be upholding despite all odds, the document revealed by Edward Snowden showing the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help’ and keep a partnership that is unique and quite productive for both sides.
This NSA document spans programs and budgets between 2001 and 2013. In this timeframe, the AT&T cooperation with NSA evolved around classified activities (how else?) and included legally allowing the U.S. agency to access billions of emails sent across AT&T domestic networks.
Perhaps the most shocking piece of information to some is that the NSA has had access to all Internet communications taking place in the United Nations headquarters. The United Nations is a customer of the telecom giant. While the NSA obtained a secret court order to authorize the massive spying, AT&T prepared the field.
According to the documents, reviewed jointly by ProPublica and the New York Times, just in 2013 the NSA’s budget for AT&T run operations was twice the amount of any other program of the magnitude. Not much is revealed as to how that budget is being spent.
However, the telecom company has, beyond tested the newest surveillance technologies handed by the NSA, planted surveillance equipment in over 17 locations of Internet hubs across the U.S.
The documents at hand do not reveal any company or partners names. However, they are easy to identify, despite the speculative character. Contacted by the New York Times and ProPublica, neither the NSA, nor Verizon or AT&T wished to comment.
More specifically, AT&T is referred to as a ‘corporate partnership’. All NSA corporate partnerships are run by the NSA’s Special Source Operations division. This alone is responsible for collecting over 80 percent of NSA handled information.
Following this year’s debate on the Patriot Act and modifying regulations, it is unclear whether the programs revealed in the document released by Edward Snowden are still in place or have been ended or diverted.
Nonetheless, some communications companies have already declined to continue supporting or to agree to support the NSA. As such, encryption has been bulked as to not allow the agency to continue spying on U.S. citizens and other alike, in what many see as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Photo Credits: westernstandard.com