AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy Docs
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AT&T SEEKS TO HIDE SPY DOCS
By Ryan Singel
April 12, 2006
AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit
that allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a
massive internet wiretap operation in its San Francisco facilities.
In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical
documents provided by an ex-ATT technician to the Electronic Frontier
Foundation shouldn¹t be used as evidence in the case and should be returned.
The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday,
purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the NSA via a secret
room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T
The EFF filed the class-action lawsuit in the Federal District Court in
Northern California in January, seeking damages from AT&T on behalf of AT&T
customers for alleged violation of state and federal laws.
Mark Klein, a former technician who worked for AT&T for 22 years, provided
three technical documents, totaling 140 pages, to the EFF and to The New
York Times, which first reported last December that the Bush administration
was eavesdropping on citizens¹ phone calls without obtaining warrants.
Klein issued a detailed public statement last week, saying he came forward
because he believes the government¹s extrajudicial spying extended beyond
wiretapping of phone calls between Americans and a party with suspected ties
to terrorists, and included wholesale monitoring of the nation¹s internet
AT&T built a secret room in its San Francisco switching station that funnels
internet traffic data from AT&T WorldNet dialup customers and traffic from
AT&T¹s massive internet backbone to the NSA, according to a statement from
Klein¹s duties included connecting new fiber optic circuits to that room,
which housed data mining equipment built by a company called Narus,
according to his statement.
Narus' promotional materials boast that its equipment can scan billions of
bits of internet traffic per second, including analyzing the contents of
e-mails and e-mail attachments and even allowing playback of internet phone
While AT&T's open filings did not confirm the details of Klein's statement,
they did not dispute the legitimacy of his claims, and the company's filing
included a sealed affidavit attesting to the sensitivity of the documents.
The company asked for a hearing on Thursday to determine whether the
documents could be used in the class-action lawsuit, whether they would be
unsealed, or whether the EFF would have to return them.
The EFF filed a rebuttal, calling that time frame unworkable and accusing
AT&T of not following normal court rules.
AT&T¹s lawyers also told the court that intense press coverage surrounding
the case, including Wired News¹ publication of Klein¹s statement, was
revealing the company¹s trade secrets, "causing grave injury to AT&T." The
lawyers also argued unsealing the documents "would cause AT&T great harm and
potentially jeopardize AT&T¹s network, making it vulnerable to hackers, and
The EFF filed the documents last week under a temporary seal when it asked
the judge to force AT&T to stop the alleged internet spying until the case
goes to trial.
Klein¹s statement and documents are the only direct evidence filed so far by
the EFF, and without them its case could be weakened.
It is not clear whether AT&T has served legal papers to Klein.
As of last week, Klein was represented by Miles Ehrlich, who until January
served as a U.S. attorney in San Francisco, prosecuting white-collar crime.
Klein is now also represented by two lawyers from the powerhouse law firm
Morrison & Foerster, including James J. Brosnahan, who is best known for
representing John Walker Lindh, the Marin County youngster found fighting
for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The EFF declined to comment on the filing, while AT&T did not return a call
The case is Hepting v. AT&T.
PREVIOUS NHNE NEWS LIST ARTICLE;
WHISTLE-BLOWER OUTS NSA SPY ROOM (4/10/2006):
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