Summary of Key News
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit
against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecom giant of violating
the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National
Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine
In December of 2005, the press revealed that the government had instituted
a comprehensive and warrantless electronic surveillance program that ignored
the careful safeguards set forth by Congress. This surveillance program, purportedly
authorized by the President at least as early as 2001 and primarily undertaken
by the NSA, intercepts and analyzes the communications of millions of ordinary
In the largest "fishing expedition" ever devised, the NSA uses powerful
computers to "data-mine" the contents of these Internet and telephone
communications for suspicious names, numbers, and words, and to analyze traffic
data indicating who is calling and emailing whom in order to identify persons
who may be "linked" to "suspicious activities," suspected
terrorists or other investigatory targets, whether directly or indirectly.
But the government did not act-and is not acting-alone. The government requires
the collaboration of major telecommunications companies to implement its unprecedented
and illegal domestic spying program.
AT&T Corp. (which was recently acquired by the new AT&T, Inc,. formerly
known as SBC Communications) maintains domestic telecommunications facilities
over which millions of Americans' telephone and Internet communications pass
every day. It also manages some of the largest databases in the world, containing
records of most or all communications made through its myriad telecommunications
The lawsuit alleges that AT&T Corp. has opened its key telecommunications
facilities and databases to direct access by the NSA and/or other government
agencies, thereby disclosing to the government the contents of its customers'
communications as well as detailed communications records about millions of
its customers, including the lawsuit's class members.
The lawsuit also alleges that AT&T has given the government unfettered
access to its over 300 terabyte "Daytona" database of caller information
-- one of the largest databases in the world. Moreover, by opening its network
and databases to wholesale surveillance by the NSA, EFF alleges that AT&T
has violated the privacy of its customers and the people they call and email,
as well as broken longstanding communications privacy laws.
The lawsuit also alleges that AT&T continues to assist the government in
its secret surveillance of millions of Americans. EFF, on behalf of a nationwide
class of AT&T customers, is suing to stop this illegal conduct and hold
AT&T responsible for its illegal collaboration in the government's domestic
spying program, which has violated the law and damaged the fundamental freedoms
of the American public.
Related Pages on eff.org
About the domestic
spying program generally
About FISA generally
re Sealed Case, Foreign Intelligence Court of Review, 2002 [PDF]
2001 FISA FAQ
About AT&T's Daytona Database (External)
AT&T Daytona page
Biggest Databases Approach 30 Terabytes" eWeek.com
& Better" InformationWeek.com
Other NSA Domestic Spying Lawsuits
for Constitutional Rights