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Telecom giant assisted NSA spying

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-17 09:51

Telecommunications powerhouse AT&T Inc has provided extensive assistance to the US National Security Agency as the spy agency conducts surveillance on huge volumes of Internet traffic passing through the United States, a newspaper reported.

The company gave assistance to the NSA in carrying out a secret court order allowing wiretapping of all Internet communications at the headquarters of the United Nations, one of its customers, The New York Times reported on Saturday, citing newly disclosed NSA documents.

The company gave the NSA access, through several ways, to billions of e-mails flowing across its domestic networks, the newspaper reported.

The documents, dated from 2003 to 2013, were provided by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the Times said.

The documents describe how the NSA's relationship with AT&T has been particularly important, enabling the agency to conduct surveillance, under various legal rules, of international and foreign-to-foreign Internet communications that passed through its US network hubs.

AT&T installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its US Internet hubs, far more than competitor Verizon Communications, the Times reported. AT&T engineers also were the first to use new surveillance technologies invented by the NSA, the newspaper reported.

"This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship," according to one NSA document describing the link between NSA and the company.

Asked to comment on the Times report, AT&T spokesman Brad Burns told Reuters by e-mail: "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."

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