The Blaze –
By law, telecom and Internet companies are often compelled to give up user data when subpoenaed or court ordered. But a new report suggests AT&T voluntarily provides the CIA with call data and is paid more than $10 million a year in exchange for its services.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
According to the New York Times, the information is used in overseas counterterrorism efforts. The CIA gives AT&T phone numbers of suspected terrorists. The phone company searches its database and provides call records that could help identify others involved in a case.
A report in September revealed AT&T maintained call records – information that included who called whom, call time, duration and location — on “every call that passes through an AT&T switch” with records going back 26 years.
Officials familiar with the relationship between the CIA and AT&T, who spoke with the Times on the condition of anonymity due to the activity’s classified status, stressed measures taken to ensure the privacy of Americans by law (emphasis added):
Most of the call logs provided by AT&T involve foreign-to-foreign calls, but when the company produces records of international calls with one end in the United States, it does not disclose the identity of the Americans and “masks” several digits of their phone numbers, the officials said.
Still, the agency can refer such masked numbers to the F.B.I., which can issue an administrative subpoena requiring AT&T to provide the uncensored data. The bureau handles any domestic investigation, but sometimes shares with the C.I.A. the information about the American participant in those calls, the officials said.