The CIA likes AT&T’s service levels. AT&T Talk about reaching out and touching someone: the New York Times reports that AT&T has turned over international calling records to the CIA.

The telecom charges the CIA more than $10 million per year in exchange for access to metadata about calls by suspected terrorists overseas.

AT&T retains the data, but it performs searches against its databases for specific phone numbers upon request from the CIA, the Times’ Charlie Savage reports, citing unnamed government officials.

AT&T’s international call database includes not only the records of AT&T customers but of any call that transits the company’s international network equipment—including Americans’ international calls. Unlike the NSA’s metadata collection from telephone companies, the CIA’s relationship with AT&T is not under a warrant, as it focuses on overseas calls not necessarily covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the Patriot Act.

AT&T voluntarily provides the data as a paid service to the CIA, according to the unnamed government officials who spoke to the Times.

This relationship mirrors other “partner” programs between US and British intelligence organizations and telecommunications companies, including the NSA/GCHQ MUSCULAR program that monitors the private data circuits of Google and Yahoo.     

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