The CIA pays AT&T for international call data

The CIA pays AT&T for international call data
Earlier today, we heard about AT&T partnering with Lookout Mobile in order to bring better security to your smartphone. Unfortunately, that will only keep you safe from things like malware, and losing your device, and can't really help protect you from the snooping of the U.S. government. A new report is actually saying that AT&T doesn't try to protect you there, and may even sell call data to the CIA.

Government officials have told the New York Times that AT&T is receiving more than $10 million per year in order to supply the CIA with international call data, including data on calls made by Americans. This is not a situation where AT&T is compelled to comply, but a voluntary contract between the carrier and the CIA. However, this isn't a deal to get any and all data from AT&T, but more targeted data.

The way it works is that the CIA determines terrorism suspects and gives the phone numbers of those suspects to AT&T. AT&T then searches its database for those numbers and returns data that could theoretically be used to identify foreign associates of those suspects. 

There has been constant debate over the level of involvement of various tech companies and carriers in government investigations, and this news adds something to the debate. The explanation sounds reasonable enough with only targeted data being exchanged, of course we're left to trust that the CIA isn't overstepping and is really only requesting data on terror suspects. And, all we've learned over the course of this fiasco brings everything into question.

source: NYT



1. PootisMan

Posts: 266; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

Well that's messed up.

2. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Glad I'm not on at&t. But this still sucks.

3. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

If it helps keep me, my wife and kids safe from the same type of terrorist who went largely undetected, making phone calls, sipping lattes, browsing the web all while living in the US, standing next to you and I in the stores, driving next to each other on the way to work....totally under the radar of threat detection, then I am ALL for it. Do what you have to do to prevent terrorism, I could have been one of those to have lost their lives, or my wife, or my daughters, or my mother, or my best friends. I'd rather the CIA laugh at my overseas calls talking about doing a 34 hit Ultra Combo with Orchid in Killer Instinct than to miss out on catching a terrorist in the making who has a real killer instinct over some people crying about their privacy rights. Your privacy is out the window if you are a victim of terrorism, everyone will see your face, know your name, your story and mourn the loss of you. Protect and serve by any means that actually protects us. Now...the question is, what is AT&T doing with the extra 10 Million a year?

6. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Hah, the naivety of this argument gets me every single time. Although I guess you aren't completely to blame for that mindset, fear is a very powerful weapon. Still, you will gladly sacrifice your freedom for your security. So they told you that they're only listening to the calls of anyone that is "suspect" so its okay (already happened). Then they listen to everyone's private conversations and access all their information, but that is okay too because it is to keep you safe (already happened). Then they tell you you can't do certain suspect things because it can be taken as "suspect" but that is okay too because it keeps you safe (already happened, check with airport security for details). Then they tell you that you can't be in a specific place at a specific time or at all, but that is okay because it is for everyone's safety. And then you can't say certain things in public because that is "suspect". You cannot demonstrate openly because that is "suspect". You cannot have a choice in every day matters of society because that is suspect. Your government can institute certain powers to themselves because it is for safety. You cannot question their actions because it is for your safety and you don't know any better and so on (All of this and more has already happened and more is on the way). Essentially, people like you will sacrifice everything to save your own life, which by that time will be worth nothing. Because the safest creature is one in a cage, and if you can call that a life, then by all means sacrifice your freedoms away.

7. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Fine rhetoric, but your argument seems to stem from fear as well.

12. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Fear of the government is justifiable. Have you heard of the USSR? China? North Korea? Hitlers Germany? I would rather take my chances with some invisible "terrorist" than the government has proven time and time again they can't be trusted. I mean they have done so well protecting us from the underwear, shoe, etc. So excuse me if I would rather defend myself than trust the government to do anything.

19. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

I don't live in fear and I haven't sacrificed my freedom. I have the freedom to do as I legally please and if you don't like to legal boundaries of where you live, move to somewhere that fits your idea of freedom. The only freedom I regret losing is.... one time....I was going to take a flight and I had some water bottles.....and security made me throw all of them poor, government torn insecure *feelings were hurt. The flight would have been simply awesome with my 6 pack of Dasani. /s *True story about the water, the feelings are a dramatization. Also, "They" didn't tell me anything. It sounds like you are very fearful or you are living in the Matrix. Sure, there are agents but I can guarantee that not ALL of them are named Smith! People like me? I'm glad you know me so well....we should meet up for a bout of Killer Instinct over some scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and toast, remember, hold the pancakes....just like the last time we dined. In all seriousness, the safest creature is NOT one in a cage because being in a cage is not freedom and when everything around you is harmful, even inside the cage, and the only way to survive is to get out of your cage...and you cannot get will safe is that? The element of Fire proves your cage mentality wrong, the creature and the cage will perish......the creature....due to being trapped. Maybe, if the owner had a smoke alarm (government) watching over them to alert them of any harm that it detected....someone would have come and saved the creature AND the expensive cage with the gold accents and pillow from HSN. I don't know you so I cannot say "people like you" but your comments sound like those of someone who would say "the man is watching" or at times, you may have felt like you have "stuck it to the man!!!" Oh well. Again, I don't know you so what am I talking about. Are you bringing toast?

15. Ravail

Posts: 182; Member since: Oct 14, 2011

"Those willing to give up liberty for security deserve niether and will lose both." -Benjamin Franklin You fall into this category.

4. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

When the government is not doing enough to fight terrorism, people are mad. If the government is now doing something, they are still mad. wtf?

8. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Please tell me that it was a sarcasm?

5. PK1983

Posts: 215; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

I'm sure the NSA, FBI, ATF, DEA, and OFA are all doing the same. We need new people in charge.

9. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Shocking news! Terrorists are using ATT's post-paid direct lines to call overseas. We don't need CIA to bust them though - LMAO. Gotta appreciate AT&T's shrewd move to make few extra millions by selling useless data to the government.

13. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

That's my thing. How many "terrorist" are dumb enough to actually attach their visa to a post paid line. My god people are stupid.

16. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

LMAO. Man, I can't stop laughing out loud every time I think of those imaginary terrorists. Only ATT is laughing louder - I believe.

10. maherk

Posts: 6939; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Well I am an Arab and a Muslim living in the states and I don't get it why people are worried about the government having your call records! As long as you're not doing anything wrong then there is no need to worry about it. If this what it takes to keep me, my family and everyone safe then be it.

14. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

That's where it all starts. You, as an Arab should be more scared than anyone. Governments through history have never been upstanding in their efforts, so I don't know what would make you think that this period in history would be any different. Just like the government held Japanese americans with no proof of wrongdoing during WWII. So that should be all the reason you need not to trust the government and your sensitive information.

20. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Proof of wrong doing means that some wrong doing has already happened and it is too late. In the legal system, are people only arrested AFTER they have been proven guilty of wrong doing? Various agencies in most nations are trying to prevent wrong doing. I was pulled over and surrounded by about 5 cop cars 2 years ago when I was moving 3 states away. I drove through Tennessee, my car packed with everything that couldn't fit in the U-Haul. It was the scariest moment of my life. Surrounded, cops with guns. People looking from the gas station. Long story short, my car, filled with items and my looks fit the description of a wanted arm robber that had been terrorizing a certain area of the state. I have never lived in Tennessee and I was just passing through but branches of the Government were looking for this wanted man. Everything worked out as I am clearly not whomever they were looking for and even though it was traumatic for me, I, along with the people of that town, am GLAD that the "government" was actively monitoring and looking out for that state "terrorist" aka armed robber. I hope they catch/caught the guy before he robs or kills someone. The officers were only doing their best to protect the lives of the people. Mistakes are made when trying to protect the people, systems aren't perfect and there is a chance for human error. It is better that efforts exist to stop wrongdoing before it happens than to do nothing and mourn and complain after it happens. I hope maherk and his family will have a safe and peaceful life and the same for me and for you.

22. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

YES, IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM PEOPLE ARE ONLY GUILTY OF WRONG WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF SUCH BY A JURY OF THEIR PEERS. I'm so happy you are glad with an erosion of your liberty, but don't trample mine over an invisible bogey man the government calls a "terrorist". Also do a quick google search and you will see that people are targeted by the government all the time and held against their will without due process or sufficient evidence. How about I put it like this. Since clearly you are a good person and would do no wrong, you should let the government put a camera in your house to monitor all your actions. You're not a criminal, so you shouldn't mind, and it helps keep us all "safe". See, is that really what you want? How about the government monitoring all your online activity. Or every transaction you make(The fed does this if you pay with check or "credit"). So where does it end? All this to still deal with people that sneak onto planes with detonation devices in their pants/shoes/etc. So now, you and I, get to be groped by a low life POS that could only get a job as a TSA agent and it's their life's mission to make your miserable. Is that really the world you want to live, or raise children in? A world of repressive fear? I mean come on man, wake up. You're no safer with the government spending 10's of billions of dollars to monitor your every call, web search, and private areas during plane rides than you were 12 years ago. It's time for the madness to stop.

11. hybrid06339

Posts: 23; Member since: May 16, 2012

great, now my tax dollars are going to at&t too. this is f'ed up.

17. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

And someone said Huawei is spying. Hypocrites!

18. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Also some thinks that North Korea is world's most brainwashed country, but it is also not true, there is another big country. ;)

21. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

The land of the brainwashed. Any estimates on how long till states start seceding?

23. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Won't happen. Last time it did the Fed stepped in and killed many hundreds of thousands people just to prove it's ultimate authority. Just proves the paper written over two hundred years ago is worthless.

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