AT&T Finally Caves; Agrees To Issue A Transparency Report
from the but-how-transparent-will-it-be? dept
With Verizon agreeing to issue a transparency report concerning government requests for information (catching up with pretty much every major internet company), it was really only a matter of time until the other major telco holdout, AT&T caved. And, indeed, just about 24 hours later, AT&T agreed to issue a similar transparency report. The press release is also the first time that AT&T appears to have made any actual statement concerning the reports of its detailed cooperation with the NSA:
- Protecting our customers’ information and privacy is paramount. Everywhere we operate, we go to great lengths to make sure our customers’ data is safe and secure. And we do so in compliance with the laws of the country where the service is provided.
- When we receive a government request for customer information, whether it’s a court order, a subpoena, or other method, we ensure that the request and our response are completely lawful and proper in that country.
- We work hard to make sure that the requests or orders are valid and that our response to them is lawful. We’ve challenged court orders, subpoenas and other requests from local, state and federal governmental entities – and will continue to do so, if we believe they are unlawful.
- We do not allow any government agency to connect directly to our network to gather, review or retrieve our customers’ information.
- We only provide wireless customer location data in response to a court order except in the rare cases in which an emergency compels us to do so. Examples include when law enforcement enlists us to locate a missing child or a kidnapping suspect, and they provide us assurance that a real emergency affecting human life exists.
That fourth bullet point, claiming that the company doesn’t allow any government agency to connect directly to the network is simply false. AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealed otherwise years ago. Furthermore, multiple reports have shown how AT&T has employees embedded directly with law enforcement to make sifting through customer info more efficient. Oh, and then there’s the issue of Snowden documents revealing how the big telcos appeared to voluntarily reach out to the NSA in the wake of September 11th, seeking to provide more info on their customers to the government.
Just the fact that it’s taken over six months for AT&T to even remotely say anything on this, and that they finally make this announcement just as everyone’s disappearing for the holidays, suggests how “seriously” the company actually takes this issue.