*AT&T sued over NSA eavesdropping*
- -------- Original Message --------
Subject: AT&T sued over NSA eavesdropping
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 23:00:14 -0500 (EST)
*AT&T sued over NSA eavesdropping*
January 31, 2006
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit
against AT&T Tuesday, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law
and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National
Security Agency (NSA) in its massive program to wiretap and data-mine
The NSA program came to light in December, when the New York Times
reported that the president had authorized the agency to intercept
telephone and Internet communications inside the United States without
the authorization of any court. Over the ensuing weeks, it became clear
that the NSA program has been intercepting and analyzing millions of
Americans' communications, with the help of the country's largest phone
and Internet companies.
Reporting has also indicated that those same companies?and AT&T
specifically?have given the NSA direct access to their vast databases of
communications records, including information about whom their customers
have phoned or emailed with in the past.
In the lawsuit, EFF alleges that AT&T, in addition to allowing the NSA
direct access to the phone and Internet communications passing over its
network, has given the government unfettered access to its over 312
terabyte "Hawkeye" database, detailing nearly every telephone
communication on AT&T's domestic network since 2001, according to the
complaint. The suit also alleges that AT&T allowed the NSA to use the
company's powerful Daytona database management software to quickly
search this and other communication databases.
By opening its network and databases to unrestricted spying by the
government, EFF alleges that AT&T has violated the privacy of AT&T
customers and the people they call and email.
That action violates the first and fourth amendments to the
Constitution, federal wiretapping statutes, as well as
telecommunications laws and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act,
according to the complaint.
"Congress has set up strong laws protecting the privacy of your
communications, strictly limiting when telephone and Internet companies
can subject your phone calls to government scrutiny," said EFF Staff
Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The companies that have betrayed their customers'
trust by illegally handing the NSA direct access to their networks and
databases must be brought to account."
AT&T is a significant provider of telecommunications and information
technology services to the federal government. AT&T provides network
services, systems integration and engineering, and software development
services to a broad range of government agencies, including those
involved in national defense, intelligence, and homeland security.
AT&T's federal customers include the White House, the State Department,
the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the
Department of Justice, and most branches of the armed forces. AT&T's
support of the intelligence and defense communities includes the
performance of various classified contracts.
To undertake this work, AT&T employs thousands of individuals who hold
government security clearances, and it maintains special secure
facilities for the performance of classified work and the safeguarding
of classified information. In addition to providing services to critical
government agencies responsible for national security, both AT&T and SBC
support the national security infrastructure through their participation
in all of the key fora for supporting U.S. government national security
U.S. communications regulators on Monday proposed fining AT&T Inc. and
Alltel Corp. $100,000 each for failing to properly certify that they
have safeguarded their customers' personal call information.
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