AT&T Tells Shareholders To Mind Their Own Business Concerning Its Relationship With The NSA
from the it's-everyone's-business dept
Verizon and AT&T have remained remarkably silent concerning all of the reports of NSA surveillance, which is fairly incredible, given that it appears that they have been the major players in basically handing over full access to their backbone networks to the NSA — even to the point of volunteering to do so, rather than having to wait for a court order. It’s no surprise that, unlike various internet companies, the telcos have not been at all supportive of attempts to allow for greater transparency over how companies work with the NSA.
However, as we noted last month, a bunch of shareholders have filed shareholder proposals with both companies, demanding that they start to file transparency reports concerning how they cooperate with government surveillance. AT&T has flat out rejected this request, saying it won’t even include the proposed resolution on the ballot at the annual AT&T shareholder’s meeting.
The basic argument? It’s none of your business. The letter, embedded below, argues that decisions about transparency are “ordinary business matters” not subject to shareholder approval. Furthermore, it argues that “protecting customer privacy is a management function” rather than a shareholder one. Of course, the issue here is that they’re not protecting customer privacy, and the shareholders are pointing out that the concern is that in doing so, it could do serious damage to the company by losing the trust of their customers. AT&T, of course, doesn’t care about any of that because, really, who else are customers going to go to?