Tag Archives: AT&T

Accusing Trump of Crossing Constitutional Line, PEN America Sues Over Threats and Reprisals Against Free Press

“When President Trump crosses the line and threatens to use his authority to punish the media, or actually does so, it is vital for the courts to step in and affirm that such threats and reprisals are unconstitutional.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for  Common Dreams. Published 10-16-2018

The lawsuit filed by PEN America and its partners seeks “to stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.” (Image: PEN America)

Arguing that President Donald Trump has crossed the line from “verbal attacks on the press” that are protected under the his First Amendment rights into using his authority to punish journalists and media outlets he dislikes with threats of intimidation or reprisal, the literary rights group PEN America has announced a lawsuit against the president in order to bring an end to such attacks.

The lawsuit (pdf) brought in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday—with PEN joined by the nonpartisan nonprofit Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic—states that while Trump has constitutionally-protected rights and “is free to criticize the press vehemently,” the president “is not free to use the  power and authority of the United States government to punish and stifle it.”   Continue reading

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Corporate Tech Giants Invited, But Consumer Advocacy Groups Shut Out of Senate Hearing on Data Privacy

“The absence of consumer representatives all but ensures a narrow discussion, focused on policy alternatives favored by business groups.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2018

More than two dozen consumer groups are urging the Senate Commerce Committee to reconsider its witness list—which only includes industry representatives—for an upcoming hearing on data privacy policy. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur/flickr/cc)

While representatives for Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Charter Communications, Google, and Twitter are all slated to testify at a Sept. 26 Senate hearing about safeguarding consumer data privacy, the nation’s leading consumer advocacy groups weren’t invited—and they’re not happy about it.

In a letter (pdf) to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on Wednesday, 28 groups expressed their “surprise and concern that not a single consumer representative was invited to testify” and called on committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to reconsider the witness list. Continue reading

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‘Most Important Surveillance Story You Will See for Years’: Report Reveals How AT&T Buildings Serve as Secret Hubs for NSA Spying

“AT&T has bent over backwards to help the U.S. government spy on essentially all internet traffic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2018

AT&T Center, Los Angeles. Photo: Laurie Avocado/flickr/cc

“The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how AT&T became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”

That was how whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden reacted to the publication of an explosive story by The Intercept on Monday, which reveals for the first time how “fortress-like” AT&T buildings located in eight major American cities have played a central role in a massive National Security Agency (NSA) spying program “that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.” Continue reading

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‘Red Alert for Net Neutrality’ Gains Steam as Internet Heavyweights Back Campaign

“We will finally force lawmakers to let us know if they stand with the 85 percent of Americans who support net neutrality—or with the cable companies that want to manipulate the internet in service of greater profits.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-3-2018

Momentum is building as open internet advocates and internet companies urge senators to overrule the FCC’s unpopular repeal of net neutrality rules. (Photo: Free Press/Flickr/cc)

In less than a week, senators will be able to officially voice their support for overruling the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) December ruling on net neutrality—and momentum was building among advocates and internet companies on Thursday ahead of a huge online demonstration to push lawmakers to reverse the FCC’s decision.


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The future of US net neutrality under Trump

Administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. But now, net neutrality in its purest form is in peril.

By Michael J. Oghia. Published 3-17-2017 by openDemocracy

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Commissioner Ajit Pai, May 2014.Wikicommons/Federal Communications Commission.Public domain.

As this openDemocracy series has poignantly highlighted, digital rights should never be taken for granted. For all those keeping a close eye on US politics, this reality could not resonate more ominously. With the new Republican administration of Donald J. Trump, there is plenty of kindle to fuel a fire of discussion and, often enough, outrage.

Yet, behind all of the grandstanding, tweeting, and obscene showmanship, there lies a political machine forged in the corridors of Capitol Hill, skyscraping towers of corporate America, and musty legal libraries ready to take up the bureaucratic responsibility of running the United States. You see, outside of the more widely covered political issues such as immigration and healthcare, administrative decisions related to the country’s telecommunications policy often go unnoticed by the majority of the US citizenry. Continue reading

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‘Terrifying’: AT&T Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal

‘If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future’

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-25-2016

Project Hemisphere allowed agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trillions of call records and other cellular data—such as "where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why." (Photo: Har Gobind Singh Khalsa/flickr/cc)

Project Hemisphere allowed agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trillions of call records and other cellular data—such as “where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why.” (Photo: Har Gobind Singh Khalsa/flickr/cc)

Telecommunications giant AT&T is spying on Americans for profit and helped law enforcement agencies investigate everything from the so-called war on drugs to Medicaid fraud—all at taxpayers’ expense, according to new reporting by The Daily Beast.

The program, known as Project Hemisphere, allowed state and local agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trillions of call records and other cellular data—such as “where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why”—for a massive range of investigations, the Beast‘s Kenneth Lipp reports. In one case examined by the news outlet, a sheriff’s office in Victorville, California used Hemisphere to track down a homicide suspect. Continue reading

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Exposed: Big Brother’s ‘Unique and Productive’ Relationship with AT&T

“The NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program,” a New York Timesand ProPublica investigation has revealed.

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-16-15.

The NSA documents cite AT&T's "extreme willingness to help." (Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

The NSA documents cite AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help.” (Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents show that the U.S. government’s relationship with telecom giant AT&T has been considered “unique and especially productive,” according to a joint investigation by the New York Times and ProPublica published Saturday.

The news organizations, whose team of journalists included Laura Poitras and James Risen, report that AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities. The revelations are based on a trove of documents provided to the Times and ProPublica by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

AT&T has given the NSA access, “through several methods covered under different legal rules,” to billions of emails, metadata records, and cellphone call records as they have flowed across its domestic networks, according to the reporting.

“The NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents,” the investigation revealed. “The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.”

The direct link to AT&T isn’t explicit in the documents, as the corporate partnerships are referred to by code names. However, an analysis of “Fairview” program documents by the Times and ProPublica “reveals a constellation of evidence that points to AT&T as that program’s partner,” the article states. Several former intelligence officials confirmed that finding.

Privacy rights groups reacted to the news with outrage, if not surprise.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the reports “confirm what EFF’s Jewel v. NSA lawsuit has claimed since 2008—that the NSA and AT&T have collaborated to build a domestic surveillance infrastructure, resulting in unconstitutional seizure and search of of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of Americans’ Internet communications.”

Furthermore, said EFF executive director Cindy Cohn, the documents “convincingly demolish the government’s core response” to the Jewel lawsuit—that EFF cannot prove that AT&T’s facilities were used in the mass surveillance.

”It’s long past time that the NSA and AT&T came clean with the American people,” Cohn declared. “It’s also time that the public U.S. courts decide whether these modern general searches are consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.”

In its response to what it described as a “blockbuster” story, the progressive phone company CREDO Mobile declared: “It’s beyond disturbing though sadly not surprising what’s being reported about a secret government relationship with AT&T that NSA documents describe as ‘highly collaborative’ and a ‘partnership, not a contractual relationship’.”

“CREDO Mobile supports full repeal of the illegal surveillance state as the only way to protect Americans from illegal government spying,” CREDO vice president Becky Bond continued, “and we challenge AT&T to demonstrate concern for its customers’ constitutional rights by joining us in public support of repealing both the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act.”

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