AT&T Sued For Helping NSA Eavesdrop

by TChris

The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes AT&T was too willing to help the NSA eavesdrop on its customers' conversations. It filed suit against AT&T on behalf of three AT&T customers, asserting that the telecommunications company "violated wiretapping and electronic privacy laws, since intercepting communications is prohibited except where authorized by law."

"As best we can tell, the NSA program is apparently the biggest fishing expedition ever devised, scanning millions of ordinary Americans' calls and e-mails for suspicious patterns," said Kevin Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the suit.

"Based on the published reports and after a reasonable investigation, we think that discovery is going to show that AT&T has opened up its network to direct access by the NSA," Bankston said.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, is based in part on "a Los Angeles Times report that the National Security Agency had access to an AT&T database tracking calling records."

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    Re: AT&T Sued For Helping NSA Eavesdrop (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:03:58 AM EST
    It would be nice if the suit wasn't thrown out of court. If AT&T had to pay big money for cooperating with the government it would certainly make these covert activities less palatable. I also find it unlikely that AT&T wouldn't sue the US government for its involvement. What Microsoft and Google are doing in China to kiss up to their criminal regime is reprehensible. I'm sure that Chinese dissidents will look elsewhere for inspiration when it comes to setting up a democracy. What's the difference between Saddam detaining thousands of people without hearings and Bush detaining thousands of people without hearing? With Bush you get no visible signs of torture.

    Re: AT&T Sued For Helping NSA Eavesdrop (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:17:41 AM EST
    Okay. This is the first step. Get them into Court. I've asked Verizon about the issue but they are silent. So far. Impeach the bastards.

    Re: AT&T Sued For Helping NSA Eavesdrop (none / 0) (#3)
    by Alan on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 06:52:30 AM EST
    Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA) requires telcos to cooperate with law enforcement by giving access to company facilities for legally authorized wiretapping and other similar activities. Telco equipment such as switches and routers must be configured so as to allow tapping/surveillance and telco must provide physical access to the premises under CALEA. This is not discretionary, it is required. I believe there is an article in Wikipedia on CALEA with details. Presumably FBI/CIA/NSA must show the telco some authorizing document from a judge or someone. I have not seen anything in the papers stating what authority was cited in the NSA surveillance program. However, if the FBI came to the telco and said "This program was ordered by the President of the US in his capacity as CiC in the war" that would probably do the trick.