The telecom giant AT&T has had an “extraordinary, decades-long” relationship with the National Security Agency (NSA) according to surprising revelations published Saturday by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Citing a swath of newly disclosed confidential NSA documents dating from 2003 to 2013, the New York Times in joint operation with ProPublica disclosed that AT&T was described as “highly collaborative” with an “extreme willingness to help” internet surveillance committed by the government.
To aid the NSA to the best of their ability, AT&T granted the agency access to “billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks.” The telecom giant even went as far to provide the agency “technical assistance” in “wiretapping all internet communications at the United Nations headquarters” in New York City.
AT&T was so willing to comply with the NSA, the company even installed new-age surveillance technology built by the agency into 17 of their official Internet hubs scatted across the U.S.
“This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship,” one cited NSA document described the link between the agency and the company. AT&T’s “corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and I.S.P.s,” or Internet Service Providers, the official document continued on.
According to the documents the NSA budget for its relationship with AT&T was twice as large as any of the agency’s next largest programs. Putting the agency’s Internet spying operations with the company as a top priority.
Snowdens latest revelations vividly describe how the NSA and AT&T worked in a joint operation to install surveillance technology across their servers.
According to the Times, AT&T began providing access for the agency back in 2011, providing them access to more than 1.1 billion domestic calling records daily after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.”
As usual, the company along with the government have began denying any and all allegations regarding the recent disclosure that came forward through official NSA documents. An AT&T spokesperson, Brad Burns, said: “We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence.”