23. June 2006, 19:23 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

If you are an AT&T customer, your privacy has vanished into the ether. The company recently sent a letter to its more than seven million Internet customers telling them that, effectively, all their usage information is owned by AT&T, and the company can do anything with it that it wants.

The Reuters reports that AT&T has told its customers that thier (customers’) business records are owned by AT&T, and “as such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.”

AT&T also said that, according to Reuters, “it would track viewing information for customers of a television service it is developing in order to help it make recommendations to customers based on their viewing habits.” The company can, of course, do whatever it wants with that viewing information as well.

It was unsettling that AT&T had provided massive amounts of data about people’s Internet use to the National Security Agency but with this new announcement, AT&T can do all that and more and customers have no say over it.

Abandoning the company and going to another ISP is about the only solution as it has shown it is not a company that can be trusted with your private information. And of course if it doesn’t respect its own customers privacy it cannot be expected to respect anyone else’s either, including (or most especially ?) that of its employees.

In the end, even that may not be enough. As much Internet traffic tranverses AT&T’s networks this may only protect some of your information. As more details come out on the AT&T-NSA joint snooping operation, it gets even more worrisome. A report in Salon states that the operation could eavesdrop on VoIP calls, capture credit card information, e-mail and more.

The article explains exactly how the snoop operation works. A former AT&T technician told Salon that wiretapping and sniffing equipment was installed at numerous AT&T facilities. The core of the entire operation reside at the AT&T Network Operations Center in Bridgeton, Missouri, inside a highly secure, “mantrap” protected room. The facility is said to be able to collect data via any AT&T router in the USA via the sniffers and capture virtually any piece of information, whether it be browsing information, VoIP, e-mail or more.

The technician told Salon that, “The network sniffer with the right software can capture anything. You can get people's e-mail, VoIP phone calls - even passwords and credit card transactions - as long as you have the right software to decrypt that.”

All this in the name of national security? No one will ever know, because neither the NSA nor AT&T are willing to divulge details.

Maybe George Orwell wasn't wrong - just off a few years.

- 30 -

Categories: ,
Keywords: AT&T,NSA,provacy,snoop,spy,voip,sniffing



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