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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why AT&T’s Surveillance Report Omits 80 Million NSA Targets -- By David Kravets, Wired, Threat Level

AT&T this week released for the first time in the phone company’s 140-year history a rough accounting of how often the U.S. government secretly demands records on telephone customers. But to those who’ve been following the National Security Agency leaks, Ma Bell’s numbers come up short by more than 80 million spied-upon Americans.

AT&T’s transparency report counts 301,816 total requests for information — spread between subpoenas, court orders and search warrants — in 2013. That includes between 2,000 and 4,000 under the category “national security demands,” which collectively gathered information on about 39,000 to 42,000 different accounts.

There was a time when that number would have seemed high. Today, it’s suspiciously low, given the disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the NSA’s bulk metadata program. We now know that the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is ordering the major telecoms to provide the NSA a firehose of metadata covering every phone call that crosses their networks.

An accurate transparency report should include a line indicating that AT&T has turned over information on each and every one of its more than 80 million-plus customers. It doesn’t.

That’s particularly ironic, given that it was Snowden’s revelations about this so-called “Section 215″ metadata spying that paved the way for the transparency report. In Snowden’s wake, technology companies pushed President Barack Obama to craft new rules allowing them to be more transparent about how much customer data they’re forced to provide the NSA and other agencies. In a Jan. 17 globally televised speech, Obama finally agreed.
We will also enable communications providers to make public more information than ever before about the orders they have received to provide data to the government.
But when the new transparency guidelines came out on Jan. 27, the language left it unclear whether discussing bulk collection was allowed, says Alex Abdo, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney. AT&T on Monday became the first phone company to release a transparency report under the new rules, and the results seem to confirm that the metadata collection is still meant to stay secret.

“This transparency report confirmed our fear that the DOJ’s apparent concession was carefully crafted to prevent real transparency,” Abdo says. “If they want real transparency, they would allow the disclosure of the bulk telephone metadata program.”

WIRED asked AT&T about the omission of the metadata spying.

The response, which arrived by email from AT&T spokeswoman Claudia Jones: “Please see footnote #1.”

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