AT&T Helped US Spy on Internet

AT&T Helped US Spy on InternetAT&T Helped US Spy on Internet

American telecommunications giant AT&T reportedly played a “highly collaborative” part in helping the US National Security Agency to spy on Internet traffic, according to new information gleaned from NSA documents dating from between 2003 and 2013, jointly reviewed by The New York Times and investigative newsroom ProPublica.

The Times reported that the wide range of such help included assisting the spy agency to snoop on all Internet communications at the US headquarters in New York, a customer of AT&T. The US told the UN in 2013 that it would not monitor its communications, DW reported.

The documents showed that in September 2003, AT&T became the first partner to turn on a new collection capability which the NSA deemed a “’live presence on the global net” and its engineers were the first to use new surveillance technologies the NSA had invented.

According to an internal agency newsletter in 2011, AT&T began handing the NSA more than 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records per day, following “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

This appears to contradict statements by intelligence officials to reporters, following earlier revelations by ex-CIA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, that for technical reasons it was mostly Americans’ landline phone records that were being collected.

The documents also show the importance of AT&T’s role in enabling the agency to conduct surveillance on international and foreign-to-foreign communications that passed through AT&T’s Internet hubs.