CIA Paying AT&T $10 Million a Year for Call Data

CIA Insists Safeguards in Place to Protect Privacy

Officials have confirmed that the CIA is paying AT&T over $10 million annually under a “voluntary contract” to provide them with call data on “suspected terrorists” from the company’s massive phone call database.

Under the previously undisclosed program, the CIA supplies “suspect” phone numbers and AT&T gives them records of calls, both foreign and domestic. Officials insist there are some safeguards to mask Americans’ personal information from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying domestically.

That assurance is limited, at best, with officials saying that the “masked” information can be referred to the FBI, which can then force AT&T to turn over information that the CIA wouldn’t be allowed to obtain directly.

The CIA program appears to be an attempt to duplicate the phone surveillance the NSA already controversially does, and officials cited “time-sensitive threat situations” for the use of AT&T.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.