February 18, 2014 / by emptywheel


AT&T: Anti-Transparency and Trickery

I noted last month that Verizon released its transparency report before the Tech Company transparency deal, which gave it a way to avoid revealing this embarrassing detail:

Had Verizon released a transparency report yesterday, it would have added at least the following two details:

Non-Content FISA orders:

4 orders affecting 107,700,000 customers

Content FISA orders:

? orders affecting ? selectors (probably measuring the number of search terms — maybe something like “250″ — Verizon searches for off its upstream collection affecting millions of people)

It would have painted a very different picture.

AT&T wasn’t as smart as Verizon, only now releasing its so-called transparency report. (h/t Kash Hill)

Here’s how it communicated to its customers that it provides all their call records and sucks up Internet data off its switches using search terms.

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 9.26.06 AM


You see, it’s supposed to reveal all of its FISA Court orders, not just the orders it gets under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is a different thing. While the number of non-content orders might still be quite small: just 4 orders, presumably, plus some exotic ones thrown in. The number of customer accounts affected would be “all.”

Moreover, in the content section, AT&T is supposed to describe “customer selectors.” This is different than accounts, because, in AT&T’s case, it also includes the number of search terms is sucks right off the circuits (which affects millions of accounts).

Congratulations, AT&T, you have demonstrated definitively these transparency guidelines are not about transparency at all.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2014/02/18/att-anti-transparency-and-trickery/