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Public Knowledge: AT&T is Breaking Law Selling Data to CIA
by Karl Bode 10:12AM Tuesday Nov 12 2013
Last week new leaks emerged revealing that the CIA has been paying AT&T $10 million annually for private user call data -- in addition to AT&T's already disclosed domestic spy program cooperation. Public Knowledge attorney Harold Feld argues in a blog post that AT&T is technically violating telemarketing law.

Specifically, Feld argues that AT&T and the CIA's relationship clearly and uniquivically violates Section 222 of the Communications Act:
Section 222 of the Communications Act, also known as the rule on “customer proprietary network information” (CPNI), prohibits AT&T from selling anyone information on who you call or who calls you without your consent. Nor does this contract with the CIA fit into any of the law’s exemptions for information sharing. This is a private contract, just the same as if AT&T had contracted with Blue Cross to let them know if anyone Blue Cross insured sent out too many times for pizza and other unhealthy food.
Feld goes on to note that AT&T has an easy out: all they need to do under FCC rules is ask consumers if they'd like to opt out of having their information shared. Granted in the past, when AT&T has been found to be breaking surveillance or privacy law, they've simply lobbied to have the law changed, just like you or I would be able to.

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Santa Monica, CA
·Time Warner Cable

The Wrong Focus, as Usual

The incessant harping by the media on the subject ignores the fundamental flaw in their complaint: Telco exists because government allows it to; they sell the data because it would be taken anyway, or they would be shut down in one form or another.

Why isn't the MSM scrutinizing the government, instead?

After all, wasn't it DOJ that went fishing and "tapped" over a dozen AP reporters phone records?



Re: The Wrong Focus, as Usual

looks like a standard lawyering tactic to me: flank 'em!
Heave Steve, for the good of the country

Not that this 'revelation' will make one iota of difference




Knowledge is power

Get enough people together to class action against AT&T, and if the courts hold it up (they can't rightly deny it, otherwise ANYONE could take anyone elses information and sell it, including legalizing data theft and sale of credit card information). People just have to stand up for themselves and force it, they are far to compliant.
Looking at the bigger picture

Re: Knowledge is power

I wonder if I could sell Verizon proprietary information to the highest bidder since they also seem to be open to 'information sharing'? Certainly I could be fired for it but it isn't like it is classified or anything. Locations of important government/financial fiber optic lines... passwords to various systems, internal phone numbers, etc. I am sure there are various groups that would pay handsomely for such knowledge.

If we are going to live in an age where our personal information is no longer consider our own once we share it with anyone then the companies that choose to live by that model should be prepared for the precedent they are setting.

Karl Bode
News Guy

Re: Knowledge is power

If we are going to live in an age where our personal information is no longer consider our own once we share it with anyone then the companies that choose to live by that model should be prepared for the precedent they are setting.
Silly, the rule of law only applies to you, not them.


Newburgh, NY

1 edit
You mean like Snowden and the rest? Where did it get them? Exiled, imprisoned, Enemies of the State. Just be quiet and keep supporting the Party comrade.

Customers can't class-action sue AT&T anymore... It's in the service contract. Assholes.


Re: Knowledge is power

Actually that doesn't mean very much. Most companies service contracts state there must be a mediation period before a lawsuit, you can find recent class actions lawsuits against ATT for other things.

Giving up your right to sue isn't something you can easily sign away especially in the case of the broad contracts that companies like ATT provide to their customers. They want people like you to think you signed it away so that you don't even try to get a lawyer.


Chicago, IL

What ISP, tech, and credit company don't do it alreay

It seems to me all of them are selling information in form or the other. The CIA is just buying it like the private sector do.


Manitowoc, WI

Glad I don't have them

I have banned att service at my house. Hell I'd like the phone wire off my house too. Oh by the way, as a customer with att, you have no rights, so ditch them creeps if you can!


united state


The government is above the law, didn't you know that?

Brookline, MA

Two words...

Retroactive immunity.


Ya think?

And why are we surprised at this?



Re: Ya think?

Because the libertarians among us envision their world where everyone builds and pays for their own cell phone network so they can sell your data to private companies instead of the govt. that they hate.


Re: Ya think?


Atlanta, GA

It's too late

The prior administration, specifically GWB, stated that "the US Constitution is just a G-- D--- piece of paper", and the current administration supports that notion. Look at how Obama has gone after prosecuting whistle-blowers, whose only act was to expose lawbreaking by the federal government. The Supreme Court was stacked with hard-line right wingers, so they won't change it. It's going to take some sort of major cultural/societal shift in the US for the rule of law to return to the federal level.