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AT&T Government Privacy

Government Sent 2,000+ National Security Letters To AT&T In 2013 67

Trailrunner7 writes: "AT&T, in its first transparency report, said it received at least 2,000 National Security Letters and nearly 38,000 requests for location data on its subscribers in 2013. The new report from AT&T is the latest in a growing list of publications from telecom companies, Web providers and cell phone carriers who have been under pressure from privacy advocates and security experts in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA surveillance revelations. AT&T's report shows a higher number of NSLs and subpoenas in 2013 than its most relevant competitor, Verizon. In January, Verizon's first transparency report showed that the company received between 1,000 and 1,999 NSLs in 2013 and 164,000 subpoenas. AT&T said it got 2,000-2,999 NSLs and 248,343 subpoenas last year. AT&T also received nearly 37,000 court orders and more than 16,000 search warrants."
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Government Sent 2,000+ National Security Letters To AT&T In 2013

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  • by XLT_Frank ( 2759563 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:04PM (#46288687)
    It is time for them to answer up and tell us what they were for. I want to see the fruit of their supposed labor.
    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:15PM (#46288795) Homepage

      38,000 terrorists were caught, obviously. Millions of American lives were saved and you're worried about protocols and paperwork...?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        or perhaps 38000 fathers that skipped out on their child support....or 38000 bail jumpers...38000 wanted felons...etc etc

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )
          Oh Noes!! the appeals to emotion are running wild today!!
        • or perhaps 38000 fathers that skipped out on their child support....or 38000 bail jumpers...38000 wanted felons...etc etc

          All of those were matters of "National Security", obviously...

          • No. Only 2,000 were National Security. 38,000 were "We want to know where somebody is. You don't need to know why."

            It'd be interesting to see what groups were asking. I mean, I can somewhat understand if it is a combination of police and FBI. I can easily believe that, nationwide, there are about 104 requests every day to know where somebody is or was at a particular time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I always knew that AT&T users were terrorists.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      You have to understand government reasoning though...

      The fact that there were over 2,000 is evidence of the threats and the need...afterall, they never would have issued NSLs if they didn't need them, therefore thats 2,000 cases of legitimate terrorist investigation!

      See its really a huge problem.... need evidence? That is your evidence, just look how many times they used it!

      If the number goes down, its evidence that its working, if the number goes up, its evidence they need to do even more!

      • 2000 given the size of the USA phone network is not that big - remember the network effect one suspect might trigger one for each recent contact the two boston bombers alone could easily have caused 20 or 30.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's 5 or 6 NSL's, and 104/105 requests for location data, every day for a year.

      I see 2 possibilities here.

      1) If there is that much suspect activity within the US to warrant such resources daily, we've failed to combat terrorism by such an absurd amount, the US should entirely re-evaluate its entire foreign policy, as well as the entire military strategy. And before that, completely overhaul immigration, and perhaps stop ALL green cards and visas to the US for 5 years. Sorry, but we can't even keep the ho

      • The USA has a population 317,558,000 I can easily believe that there are 5 or 6 possible terrorism leads per day that woudl need investigating
  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:08PM (#46288723)

    They PINKY SWEAR they're only using this information for terrorism, right?

    If there are really THAT MANY terrorists inside the US, we're fucked. I mean, really truly fucked. I'm surprised any of the bridges or large buildings in my city are still standing. We KNOW The FBI and DHS can't catch everyone. Oddly enough, all the bridges and buildings are still there. No one has taken down the water supply. Electricity still works. Parking sucks, but that's normal. :D No terrorists attacks have taken place (and it's NOT because the FBI stopped them.)

    That means all those THOUSANDS of requests... lets see, 16,000 search warrants, 50 states, 320 search warrants per state... I should have an active terrorist cell of AT LEAST 50 people in my city. Probably 100. Where are they?

    They don't exist. That means they're using this information, and the powers granted to them FOR CATCHING TERRORISTS, for other things. No way!

    • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:12PM (#46288763)

      And lest you think I'm just whining on the internet, there are things you can do. Volunteer for the ACLU. give money to the EFF. join an organization dedicated to fixing congress. Get money out of politics. It's not hard. It just takes that little bit of motivation to get off your ass and go do something. That itsy little bit really does make a difference.

      I challenge all of you. Look up your state and federal reps, and add them as contacts on your phone. Call them when you're bored and tell them what's important to you. It really does make a difference.

      Ok, so you're THAT lazy... :D Here. Sheesh. http://whoismyrepresentative.c... []

      • by judoguy ( 534886 )

        Get money out of politics...

        Why do people even bother to say this?!? WTF does that even mean?

        Politics is ONLY about money. Oh, you mean somehow make it so that people can run for office without having any money. Really? In what possible system can that happen? I ran for city council in a small suburb of Minneapolis recently. Cost me about $8000 for ads, mailings, etc. How the hell are the "people" supposed to evaluate candidates without an information stream, i.e., "publicity"?

        Oh, you say, "We'll have government paid for publicity f

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          I'm going to quote you out of order, but the context will remain.

          Politics is ONLY about money. Oh, you mean somehow make it so that people can run for office without having any money. Really?

          What it has become is not how it was intended, how it was designed, or how it was envisioned. Just like a Religion, people abuse everything to gain power and control. More on this shortly.

          Oh, you say, "We'll have government paid for publicity for candidates. That'll get the money out of politics!" Wrong! All that does is let the government decide who can run for government.

          Again, you are repeating propaganda and not looking at how we were intended to run.

          Why do people even bother to say this?!? WTF does that even mean?

          That is the easy question, but lets see if you are willing to do the work. Read Plato's "The Republic", then read the Federalist papers, the US Constitution and Bill of Righ

        • The weather doesn't pay to inform people as to what it will be like in the next few days. Why should we expect political candidates to pay to inform us? I can't imagine a system less likely to get the right person into the job.

          Money in politics isn't the problem, it's that money is what determines who wins. If someone spends a fortune running for office, but a broke, mild mannered person who does no fundraising, but happens to be a great choice for the job happens to win instead, then we've fixed the sys

        • A good place to start getting money out of politics can be done with a targeted attack on campaign contributions. There is a limit of $2500 for individual contributions but the 503 corporations were created for the sole purpose of getting around the $2500 limit. Specifically targeting this issue instead of generalizing the entire system makes it easier for the public to understand. Make the politicians to explain their campaign expenses in detail. Politicians would be hard pressed to justify the amount of d

        • Sigh. Well, you keep doing nothing. I'm sure that'll work out well for you. I'll just keep working with others in my state and saving your ass, little by little. I'm sure it's all hopeless, you know, except that we're succeeding in 20 states. All it really took was to try.

          Nah, I'll bite... I'd rather politicians (and I've met several, and they're just people. Some are brighter than others), were taking public money to run their campaigns than corporate or lobbyist money. It's a matter of influence. And ye

      • In spite of some responses to your post, I commend you for it.
        Give the boot to degenerates like the Clap, Alexander, Feinstein, Lieberman,
        and the whole lot that subscrinbes to the maxim "Keep the rich happy and
        (to that end) keep the rest frightened".

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Or, alternatively, you could actual read up on some facts and then create an informed opinion.
          I know, leaving your echo chamber is scary, and stupid people fear what they don't understand.

    • It is worse than that! That is just one carrier. You have Verizon and T-Mobile. Plus you have all of the major email providers receiving these letters.
      • ...and that's only the stuff they had to specifically request. Most of the stuff they can hoover up automatically so they don't need no steenkin' NSLs.

    • 16,000 search warrants, 50 states, 320 search warrants per state... I should have an active terrorist cell of AT LEAST 50 people in my city.

      That 16,000 is all the warrants from all sources including local, state and federal police investigating crimes not related to terrorism. You are making the assumption that all the requests are supposed to be terrorism related and that is not true. For example, getting a warrant for a phone dump on a murder suspect would be in that total.

      Even the national Security Letters and FISA requests are not all about terrorism. That have been and continue to be about counterespionage as well.

    • They PINKY SWEAR they're only using this information for terrorism, right?

      No they don't. Because this number is total subpoenas and search warrants. These could be for tax fraud, divorce cases, speeding tickets, murder trials etc.

      Welcome to 1884, where a lawyer can subpoena information on you in the course of a trial. The National Security Letters examples are related to terrorism. Everything else is just all of the normal legal requests a large document archive will get related to the rest of the law enforcement activities we've seen for hundreds of years.

  • Taken together, this would allude to the existence of a shockingly high number of terrorists active in the US, wouldn't it?

    Who would have thought we have over 412,000 active terrorists using our cell towers???

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > 412,000 active terrorists

      Nice lie asshole. They only received 2,000-2,999 actually NSLs, but of course you know that. Instead, you add completely unrelated numbers like from protective orders or missing children searches to your lie. I noticed that your post is a +2 right now. I love how /. always rewards the liars, but great posts from ACs are almost always punished all of the way down to zero. How about you stop fucking over this site with your nonsense. It's bad enough reading all of the Beta

    • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:29PM (#46288951)

      Uh, the subpoenas are for any crime where the police have reasonable cause to obtain the call or location data of a suspect, not just terrorists. To me that seems reasonable, there were 1.2M violent crimes in the US in 2011 according to the FBI, that means the police are only requesting call or location data in at most 1/3rd of such cases (probably many are for non-violent crimes, though it would have to be a fairly major property crime or spree of such for the cops to go through the trouble of doing the paperwork).

      • by chihowa ( 366380 ) *

        (probably many are for non-violent crimes, though it would have to be a fairly major property crime or spree of such for the cops to go through the trouble of doing the paperwork)

        ...or involve drugs. After forfeiture and other asset seizure, any investigation involving drugs more than pays for itself.

  • by Indy1 ( 99447 ) <> on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:20PM (#46288841) Homepage

    More like National Fascism Letters...

    I'm not surprised though, ATT has been the lap dog of the since day 1.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @03:20PM (#46288849) Homepage Journal

    Either we live in East Germany and the NSA is the Stasi, or somebody hasn't been reading the US Constitution and the sections about quartering troops in our domiciles (aka computers, cell phones) and unwarranted search and seizure without reasonable cause.

    Every day, our freedoms disappear, even though anyone with actual counter-terrorism experience knows 99.9 percent of the problem is overseas in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan.

  • So does that also include all the data collected from room 641A []?

  • as the NSA is an illegal organization in violating the Bill of Rights. And there are those in law who know this.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      False. Congress gave them permission, hence not illegal.
      Also, congress can take away any amendment, legally.

      You might ant to read the constitution.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Re Congress gave them permission, hence not illegal.
        Yes it gives US agencies internal legal cover for a few years until tested in open court.
        Then the reality of the 4th Amendment sets in and any laws offering 'permission' become a legal joke.
  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @04:39PM (#46289597)

    Lets look at the report [] actually means.

    The first part of the report refers to National Security Letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests. Most people seem to assume that all these requests are submitted as counter terrorism related. That is not true. Both of these types of requests existed before 911 and were used to investigate foreign intelligence operations. What changed is that they are now able to use them to investigate individuals not associated with a country but a terrorist organization instead. There are still counterespionage investigations going on and that would account for some if the requests. I would like a breakdown between the two categories but I doubt that will ever happen.

    The next section refers to "Total U.S. Criminal & Civil Litigation Demands". These requests can come from many sources including local police. They could be related to crimes such as murder, drug dealing, racketeering, etc. For example,when a police officer is investigating a murder suspect and they dump the phone that is one request. The civil cases could include things like divorces where one party is trying to prove infidelity. These requests are most likely unrelated to terrorism.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The number could be a real mixed catch all.
      If local law enforcement cant work out/fund parallel construction at a city or state level - try the Fusion centre and 'new' laws/methods/enjoy federal funding.
      A vast count of limited classic crime been termed terror related due to movement of cash or drugs or weapons - a win for local law enforcement and 'new' laws/methods/federal funding.
      Then finally the 'hop' method of finding one person/parallel construction/"entrapment" to then adding all friends, family, w
  • is still less than 30 odd thousand girlie brief peekers.
  • Te have millions of customers, so it seems like a tiny percentage. If you take into account degrees of separation, many of them were probably for related cases.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner