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Iran Press TV

CIA pays AT&T millions for call records

Iran Press TV

Thu Nov 7, 2013 1:11PM GMT

The US Central Intelligence Agency is paying AT&T, a US telecommunications corporation headquartered in Texas, millions of dollars a year in order to exploit the company's huge database of phone records for spying purposes.

CIA officials have said the corporation provides the US intelligence agency with phone records stored in its vast database under a voluntary contract, not under court orders requiring the company to hand over costumers' data, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

According to the officials, the CIA supplies phone numbers of its targets outside the United States and AT&T provides the agency with data on the targets' phone calls.

The revelations shed more light on financial ties between US spy agencies and telecommunication companies.

Earlier in August, The Guardian reported that documents it obtained from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency had paid US Internet companies millions of dollars so that they would continue their cooperation with the NSA in running its PRISM surveillance program.

PRISM is a US spying program under which US technology companies are required to hand over user data pertaining to all people across the globe after they receive orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).

Also in August, The Washington Post reported that documents leaked by Snowden showed under a program titled the Corporate Partner Access Project, the NSA taps into "high volume circuit and packet-switched networks" by paying hundreds of millions of dollars to US telecommunications providers.

At its peak, the program cost the US spy agency $394 million in 2011 and it was expected to cost $278 million in the 2013 fiscal year.

During a closed-door session on Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed a bill that would allow the NSA and other departments to keep receiving funding. The bill includes new funding for technology to counter 'insider threats' like leaks of classified information.

Other documents leaked by Snowden have also shown that the "black budget" for Washington's spying operations in 2013 was $52.6 billion, which included $10.8 billion for the NSA alone. The "black budget" is larger than the sum received by the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce and NASA in 2013 combined.


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