AT&T Helps US Spy, Say Memos Phone company gave NSA access to emails in ‘secret room,’ claims an ex-AT&T tech
May 23, 2006 AT&T provided a “secret room” in its San Francisco offices to help the U.S. National Security Agency monitor emails on the Internet, according to three internal company documents filed in connection with a class-action privacy suit in federal court.
The documents, published Monday by WiredNews.com, claim spying equipment was installed in the San Francisco office. They said the equipment also exists in other U.S. cities, providing the U.S. spy agency with the ability to inspect every individual message and to monitor what consumers are reading on the Internet.
The documents were made available by Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, and have been offered as evidence in a class-action lawsuit filed against AT&T by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in January.
The suit accuses the telecommunications giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the NSA in a massive and illegal program to wiretap and mine data generated by Americans. A federal judge had sealed the documents in connection with the case.
Verizon also has been sued on the grounds that it illegally compromised the privacy of its customers, and BellSouth has been accused of complicity with illegal spying.
The cases have ramifications ranging from the privacy of U.S. citizens to economic implications for the hundreds of companies that supply the major telephone companies with equipment and software that make the systems work.
Telecom equipment suppliers have been on the ropes since the market’s downturn about seven years ago, although there has been a recent resurgence as the phone companies have begun upgrading their networks for video. Secret Room
The secret room where the equipment is installed is Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco, the site of a major SBC building where three floors were occupied by AT&T. SBC has since acquired AT&T and the merged company has taken the AT&T name.
With details about fiber circuit connections and the location code of specific cabinets, the documents sketch out the communications and physical architecture of the three floors.
Entry into the room where the spy equipment was installed required special security clearance. Only management-level technicians were allowed inside the room. According to Mr. Klein, the technician who set up the room was laid off in one of the company’s downsizings in late 2003.
Seal Is Now Moot
Last week Judge Vaughn Walker, chief judge of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, rejected a move by AT&T to bar the public from a hearing in the case. But the judge asked the two sides to meet and decide what portions of the documents would need to be redacted (see Court Denies AT&T Privacy).
AT&T attorneys had claimed some of the documents involve the company’s trade secrets and confidential and proprietary business information. However, with the publication of what are alleged to be the unedited documents, the ruling may be moot.Courtesy of http://redherring.com