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article imageMore Snowden revelations on AT&T and NSA collusion

By Tom Pritchard     Aug 17, 2015 in Politics
Edward Snowden, the IT worker who fled to Russia over two years ago, has released another bombshell about how AT&T reportedly partnered with the National Security Agency to spy on the Internet for at least a decade.
Snowden, who continues to remain in Russia, gave the New York Times documents which show that the NSA considered their relationship with AT&T to be particularly productive.
From 2003 to 2013, the telecommunication company helped the NSA in a wide variety of avenues to help conduct surveillance of foreign communications which passed through network hubs in the United States.
According to the documents, this work included providing over 1.1 billion phone records daily in 2011 in an effort to ramp up security around the tenth anniversary of 9/11. This was in addition to the 700 million records which were normally provided. In addition, AT&T provided the NSA with technical help in a secret plan to wiretap all Internet traffic at the UN in 2012.
The documents note that the NSA must “leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routers throughout the world.” While AT&T is never mentioned in the documents, the Times reports that the “SSO Fairview” described there was the NSA’s cooperation with AT&T. This has been confirmed by several former intelligence officials.
AT&T is not the only telecommunication which worked alongside the NSA. A “Stormbrew” program mentioned alongside “Fairview” appears to be Verizon. But AT&T’S work was much larger than any other company, as the secret 2013 budget for Fairview was more than twice that of Stormbrew.
AT&T spokesman Brad Burns defended the company’s record, claiming that “We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence.” Burns said that AT&T would not comment any further.
It should be noted that surveillance work between telecommunications companies and the government is not new. As early as 1919, the State Department created a company called “The Cipher Bureau” under cryptographer Herbert Yardley. While the Cipher Bureau ostensibly compiled commercial codes for banks and businesses, its true objective was to crack foreign codes, including Mexico and Imperial Japan.
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