Report: AT&T assisted NSA in spying on Internet traffic

AT&T (NYSE: T) has been working with the US National Security Agency to provide Internet usage traffic records since 2011, according to a New York Times report.  

Conducted in conjunction with ProPublica, the report was based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and cited an internal agency newsletter for the information, and revealed that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive.

Between a 10-year period from 2003 to 2013, the documents show that AT&T gave the NSA access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails that flowed over its domestic networks.

The telco also provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, one of AT&T's customers. 

To conduct the testing, AT&T installed surveillance equipment in about 17 of its Internet hubs in the U.S., which the report said was more than fellow ILEC Verizon. AT&T's engineers also tested new surveillance technologies invented by the NSA.

While the documents do not specifically cite AT&T, the documents point to evidence that AT&T is the company that the NSA works with under a program called "Fairview." A Fairview fiber cable, damaged in the 2011 earthquake in Japan, was repaired on the same date as a Japanese-American cable operated by AT&T.

In addition, Fairview documents use technical terms that are specific to AT&T. Meanwhile, in 2012 the Fairview program carried out the court order for surveillance on the Internet line, which AT&T provides, serving the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The NSA, AT&T and Verizon would not discuss the findings from the files with the New York Times or ProPublica. 

For more:
- NY Times has this article
- see these two separate ProPublica articles 
- FierceWireless has this article

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