AT&T Scores $1 Billion Contract To Rebuild DOJ Systems

from the blurred-lines dept

AT&T is increasingly becoming one of those companies that's so bone-grafted to the government, it's getting harder to determine where the telecom giant ends and the government begins. Reports have already explored how AT&T is effectively fused to the NSA; the company provides the government widespread access to every shred of data that traverses its network, and its employees can often be found acting as government intelligence analysts.

Granted after some early concerns about corruption, AT&T has also been tasked with building the nation's $47 billion emergency communications network, FirstNet. And this week the company also netted a new $1 billion, fifteen-year contract to rebuild the Department of Justice's computer systems:

"AT&T has won a $984 million, 15-year contract to help upgrade the US Department of Justice's technology systems. The deal will see AT&T move more than 120,000 DOJ employees in 2,100 offices to a new communications platform for mobile voice and data, cybersecurity and cloud services. While it doesn't cover 5G for now, the next-generation networking service could be added on later."

Aside from that whole DOJ lawsuit against the Time Warner merger (which was likely more about pleasing Rupert Murdoch than reining in corporate power), AT&T has been having a hell of a run under the Trump administration. It not only got to effectively hand pick the head of the FCC, it then was showered with incalculable billions in regulatory favors (like killing net neutrality and broadband privacy rules), before getting showered in billions more in favors thanks to the Trump tax cut.

The problem of fusing a historically anti-competitive monopoly to government should be fairly obvious. Especially given AT&T's repeated ethical challenges. This is a company that in just the last few years AT&T has been: fined $18.6 million for helping rip off programs for the hearing impaired, fined $10.4 million for ripping off a program for low-income families, fined $105 million for helping "crammers" (by intentionally making such bogus charges more difficult to see on customer bills), and fined $7.7 million for turning a blind eye while drug dealers ran a directory assistance scam on its customers.

That's before you even get to AT&T's routinely anti-competitive behavior, concern over which has been widely sidelined given the laser-like focus on "big tech." Recent tech policy conversations almost exclusively focus on Silicon Valley giants, yet oddly exclude the threat of telecom monopolies from the conversation, another Trump era favor to AT&T. Of course telecom lobbyists are more than happy to have the entirety of recent policy conversations fixated on "big tech" and not telecom, given the latter is trying desperately to disrupt the former's stranglehold over online advertising.

Which is all to say that maybe at some point in addition to trying to fix the problems with "big tech," we could shift at least a portion of the tech policy conversation back to unethical, anti-competitive telecom monopolies we're happily bone-grafting to the US government? Just a thought.

Filed Under: computer systems, doj
Companies: at&t


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 7:12am

    God commanded Adam to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). God created man in His image to be His regent on Earth carrying out His plans. This mandate has never been revoked or changed. This is still part of any government’s responsibility toward God. That includes the atheistic, secular and pagan ones.

    On the 118,125,239,216th day of the 182 millennium after Dinosaurs, God created AT&T.

    And thus, all is well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      and if we kill off all the birds, fish, animals...
      What is our responsibility then??

      Subdue, means we control it, but if you look out the windows from the East to the west until you see yourself...we have killed off over 1/2 of the natural creatures of this planet..I would suggest over 2/3. but its hard to count them over the number of humans..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kevin, 7 Aug 2019 @ 5:57pm

      Re:

      I think your missing the point of this scripture. Man is a thinker. It can be used for positive building or it can be used to tear down. Ruining the environment isn’t responsible thinking, but I understand your intention.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 7:15am

    Same old song and dance.

    Is there any expectation that AT&T will treat this customer any different than they treat their other customers?

    It is true that this customer is bigger than other customers, and this customer has some ability to adversely impact AT&T in ways other customers cannot (though there is no evidence that it would), but does any of that make any difference to AT&T?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 7:31am

      Re: Same old song and dance.

      Wait, are you saying that the Government could adversely impact AT&T in ways other customers could not? Like, arrest everybody and put them in solitary for months on end? Or indict the senior staff with criminal charges and break into their homes in the early morning hours with FBI holding long rifles? Or maybe seize all their assets and revoke all their passports? That kind of thing?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re: Same old song and dance.

        While any of those things might be nice, and maybe even appropriate, no. I was thinking of the FCC and FTC and Congress and the courts actually doing their jobs (I know, ridiculous) and not the jobs they currently imagine they should be, but the jobs imagined by the regulations that established those agencies.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 8:01am

          Re: Re: Re: Same old song and dance.

          Isn’t that thought a bit misplaced? “Imagined by the regulations”? Do regulations imagine?

          Wait, is this the democratic debate? Because they talked the same way. Like misplacing words into sentence constructions that were meaningless.

          Is this like a leftist disease? Forgetting that people are flawed, and regulations are intended to serve people, not the other way around? Kind of fits in with destroying history and calling everyone a “RACIST”.

          Tell me honestly, how do you feel about ordinary citizens being crushed by the government? You’re good with that, right? FBI agents storming someone’s house with long guns is fine with you, right? You’re a totalitarian, yes?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 8:26am

            Fuck off, Hamilton.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 8:41am

              Re:

              Oh Stephen, I know you're kidding, you're just playing a role. Just like all those guys on stage at the Democratic debate - role playing and mouthing words constructed into empty sentences that mean nothing at all.

              You all have to admit, and even admire, the fact that Donald J. Trump, POTUS, is not kidding. He's not kidding! No kidding! He's dead fucking serious, not like you "green new deal" and "climate catastrophe" people. Kidding!

              Democratic candidates are just like you, Stephen. Hiding behind a phony face using phony words without meaning a word of what they're saying. Trump is NEW! A politician who is NOT KIDDING! Wow.

              Until you lefties find a politician that is NOT KIDDING, you don't stand a chance. Quit kidding around! Get serious!

              "Fuck off, Hamilton", really - I know you're glad to see me and ready to respond with a witty retort. Have at it!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                AlexisR200, 2 Aug 2019 @ 9:41am

                Re: Re:

                Looks like someone is drinking a little too much of the MAGA-punch That the orange buffoon serves at his rallies and actually thinks Trump means what he says... ANYONE still taking the noises that come out of Trump's mouth seriously or worse, telling others as much needs psychiatric help.

                People need to wake up to the fact that Trump is merely an old con man. He says what people like to hear. If you plop it anywhere his views magically switch to suit the taste of the people he speaks to at the moment. He is not beholden to anything he says and will tell you he likes whatever you like even as he hates your guts and works to destroy you.

                Those people with the red hats at his rallies? They will feel the
                negative effects of his selfish policies long after its too late to hold him accountable. He will fly away in his private jet while they are left with the debt. Problem is that we all get dragged down in the procces.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 9:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Same old song and dance.

            You aren't arguing in good faith. But I have a burr in my bonnet today, So to explain to you the very basic concepts of language:

            Words mean things. Context of the whole of a sentence or surrounding text can change the meaning of words. For instance, there is This sentence where the meaning of the sentence changes based on which word you emphasize. There is another meme with a single sentence which tells a story and that story radically changes with each clause. That is to say, words and phrases and sentences, et al. can have many meanings. Some of which are only understandable by one who understands a language or culture such as Idiom and Metaphor.

            You complain about the phrase "imagined by the regulations", which is a bit of a anthropomorphizing metaphor. You can see the core of the idea in your phrase "regulations are intended to". This could be rewritten as "intended by the regulations" or "the regulations intend". At which point we can have the same 'do regulations intend things, do they have a will?' kind of ridiculous misunderstanding that should probably give you pause from further internet discussion. But you chose to die on that hill, so - Both "imagined by the regulations" and "intended by the regulations" anthropomorphize the regulations. The latter is used to explore the intentions - the goals - of the drafter of the regulations. The regulations in this case could be either the law defining the regulatory body or the rules issued by the regulatory body, depending on context. In the case of 'imagined by the regulations', AAC is contextually referring to the purpose and goals of the regulator as imagined or percieved by the drafter of the laws defining the regulatory body. This is proven by the rest of his statement - "that established those agencies."

            I understand perhaps you are in the portion of the neuro-divergent population who do not understand speaking in idiom and metaphor. However, nothing you are railing against in this post come from AAC's post. AAC is noting that FCC regulation is currently serving AT&T, not the people. You are yelling about AACs comments being a leftist disease to have regulators serve corporations, in response to a comment that is frustrated with the way the FCC refuses to hold AT&T responsible. Context of the article and the full thread of complaints plays all of this out. Where did you get support for corporate control over regulators?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 10:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Same old song and dance.

              Ouch, that must hurt. The burr in your bonnet, I mean. You do write like you are in pain.

              I was trying to make a point in good faith. Those would twist the language hinder and yon when trying to express this thought or the other thought have their reason to do so. For example, did you see the questions at the Democratic debate? Simple question: Don't you think decriminalizing border crossing and giving away free health care will incentivize people from all over the world to come to the US? Answer: Of course we have to have strong borders. But women with children are not criminals. Get that? Strong borders, meaning keeping people out. But if you're a mom and child, come on in! That went on all night, one after the other, twisting, sliding, turning words around into sentences and paragraphs that made no sense at all.

              I guess I get a burr in my own bonnet when I hear such abuse of language in order to avoid being straightforward. Trump may be clumsy, but you don't have to wonder about what he thinks! That's a good thing, in my book.

              You hate the government? Just say so. You hate AT&T? Just say so. You hate copyrights, patents, inventors, incentives to invent, you want to live like the fucking Chinese? Just say so. You want to say "any of those things might be nice" when referring to a totalitarian government that destroys individual rights with morning raids and long guns, just say so. You want to control the economy, the government, what people say, what they think, and use the unlimited power of the state to enforce your twisted disgusting image of a perfect society, JUST SAY SO! QUIT FUCKING EQUIVOCATING AND OWN YOUR OWN IDEAS!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 10:46am

                Hey, dumbass: It’s “bee in your bonnet”. And while you’re at it, leave a nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2019 @ 8:16pm

                  Re:

                  Funny how Hamilton considers it patriotic to take the orders of Trump to shoot someone with a shotgun but the FBI is somehow too un-American to obey...

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pref Anon, 2 Aug 2019 @ 10:29am

      Re: Same old song and dance.

      Does it make a difference? Kinda, but its more a cultural difference. As a result of their Ma Bell Legacies, both ATT and Verizon are hugely cooperative with the federal government and especially the military. In this arena they should be compared to large defense contractors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 7:55am

    Other competitors?

    Who else would do this for both mobile and wired infrastructure? We only have 3 options... AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon... adding the mobile component to that contract pretty much leaves everyone else out of the competition. And T-Mobile I'm not sure if they even have wired infrastructure... so... AT&T or Verizon. Pick your poison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 9:35am

    If AT&T implements this contract with the same zeal they have applied to rural broadband upgrades, the DOJ will soon be announcing their new 80 column punch card sorting machines.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 9:49am

    i hope the DoJ isn't expecting to keep watching cable then! that's falling from grace and wont be going in 15 years!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2019 @ 10:29am

    Does this make AT&T a state actor?
    LOL

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Aug 2019 @ 11:41am

    Raise your hands..

    If you think ATT can finish any of this in 5 years??

    AND the main backbone in the USA is supposed to be Upgraded, fully. All you need is the last mile, end points.

    I love the idea that 1 of those corps was trying to bypass the Backbone and make a Full Wireless, Backbone.. Which is not that easy.. you would still need to connect to the main backbone as the Amount of Voice and data GROWS to the point that ???? its the old trick of doubling. every mile you double or add more, and at a certain point your system Cant hold it all, at the same time.. There is only So much bandwidth, even in digital, until it Feeds over and destroys itself..
    And the Corps have done the numbers So.. close. That they do not install More then is needed at any time.
    PDX, had a 6% usage rate before the internet. The corp only installed 6% of 100% coverage. At no time would more then 6% of the City be using the phone system. The internet went boom, and they had to install enough for 80%..Took them 6 months to get partially done..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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