Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hepting vs AT&T

Hepting v. AT&T is a United States class action lawsuit filed in January 2006 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) against the telecommunications company AT&T over the installation of NarusInsight, a supercomputer system used by the NSA to record and monitor internet traffic, in AT&T's San Francisco Internet backbone.

In 2002-2003, AT&T permitted and assisted the NSA to install a NarusInsight system in its San Francisco switching center, which was capable of monitoring billions of bits of Internet traffic a second, including the playback of telephone calls routed on the Internet, and thus in effect spying upon the entirety of the communication of many or all American citizens and businesses who use the Internet.

A former AT&T engineer, Mark Klein, attested that a supercomputer built by Narus was installed for the purpose, and that similar systems were also installed in at least Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Mark Klein:

Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA [...] And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of Internet communications of countless citizens.

The EFF alleges in the suit that AT&T also allowed the NSA to data-mine hundreds of terabytes of client records which included detailed transaction records such as domestic numbers dialed since 2001, and all Internet addresses visited, as well as other content. The EFF's attorney Kevin Bankston states:

Our goal is to go after the people who are making the government's illegal surveillance possible [...] They could not do what they are doing without the help of companies like AT&T. We want to make it clear to AT&T that it is not in their legal or economic interests to violate the law whenever the president asks them to.