It came as no surprise (and with little fanfare) that more Snowden documents released on Saturday revealed that AT&T worked closely with the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens and people around the world. The newly revealed papers also showed that AT&T tapped Internet traffic and forwarded emails to the NSA.
In fact, AT&T went out of their way to help the NSA gather and sort through gigantic swaths of cellphone and landline calls, emails and Internet traffic from around the world. According to the documents released by the New York Times, AT&T installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its U.S. Internet hubs and in other hubs around the world. This included all Internet communications at the headquarters of the United Nations, an AT&T customer.
The NSA documents praised AT&T stating that “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship,” and “AT&T’s corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and I.S.P.s.”
In a weird way these newest revelations from the Snowden documents comes at just the right time for AT&T.
If these documents had been released earlier, when the first revelations of massive world-wide and domestic spying were first revealed, then AT&T would have had to weather a blistering torrent of universal condemnation. They would have been crucified. Instead most of the blame fell on the NSA alone and all they had to do was shrug and say, “It’s a matter of national security,” and let the politicians deal with the questions.
But people have grown weary of spy stories. It seems like every week or two we hear another story about the NSA or the FBI or some government agency spying on virtually everyone on the planet. They spy on us, our friends, our enemies even each other. They collect metadata (which no one really understands) and we suspected that they collected emails, Tweets, Facebook posts and just about all Internet traffic. We also suspected that the NSA was working with (or forcing) service providers, technology companies, hardware manufacturers and anyone who might be able to help them. These latest documents only prove that yes, that’s exactly what they were doing.
I’m certain there will be more revelations in the future showing that just about every tech company provided tools or information to the NSA. It’s a pretty sure bet that we’ll find out that Comcast and virtually every cable and Internet service provider also worked closely with the NSA and it’s more than likely that all telecommunications companies did the same. And sooner or later it will come out that Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, Cisco, Intel, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and others either willingly or under pressure also worked with the NSA. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the NSA was also working with Samsung, Sony, Blackberry, HTC, Nokia, Toshiba, HP, V-Tech and even Mattel.
Unfortunately nobody cares anymore.