Salon on the EFF v. AT&T Suit [8:15 am]
A federal judge denied AT&T’s request on Wednesday to force the Electronic Frontier Foundation to return documents the nonprofit organization received from a retired AT&T employee.
The documents that former AT&T technician Mark Klein gave EFF earlier this year, and which the court has sealed, contain details of what EFF and Klein are alleging is a secret agreement between the telecommunications company and the National Security Agency to provide the government agency with illegal access to communications belonging to its customers. In a preface to the documents, Klein said he was motivated to blow the whistle in 2004 “when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on Internet traffic.”
The documents, which Klein released to the New York Times and other newspapers before the court sealed them, describe how AT&T diverted the communications of customers to a secret room that the company maintained at its hubs in San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Calif., Los Angeles and Seattle. The rooms housed “computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company’s popular WorldNet service and the entire Internet,” Klein wrote. “These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the Internet and analyze exactly what people are doing.”
Klein’s assertions help support a class-action lawsuit that EFF filed against AT&T in January on behalf of its customers, alleging that the company violated the wiretap statute, the FISA statute and several communications and privacy laws in aiding the government’s domestic spying operation without a court order.