hey kids, let's all cause grave injury to AT&T.

AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy Docs

In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn't be used as evidence in the case and should be returned. The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers.

AT&T built a secret room in its San Francisco switching station that funnels internet traffic data from AT&T Worldnet dialup customers and traffic from AT&T's massive internet backbone to the NSA, according to a statement from Klein.

The company asked for a hearing Thursday to determine whether the documents could be used in the class-action lawsuit, whether they would be unsealed or whether the EFF would have to return them. The EFF filed a rebuttal, calling that time frame unworkable and accusing AT&T of not following normal court rules.

AT&T's lawyers also told the court that intense press coverage surrounding the case, including Wired News' publication of Klein's statement, was revealing the company's trade secrets, "causing grave injury to AT&T." The lawyers argued that unsealing the documents "would cause AT&T great harm and potentially jeopardize AT&T's network, making it vulnerable to hackers, and worse."

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19 Responses:

  1. ivan_ghandhi says:

    Well, for the last 12 years I've been considering AT&T one of the worst companies in US. If there is a way to cause it grave injury, and then do it a coup de grace, I'd vote for it.

  2. belgand says:

    When your business plan is alternately based on "screwing the customer outright" and "secretly cooperating with illegal government wiretapping" then yes, revealing these documents would be bad for their business.

    Now, if this case can be handled quietly without any press coverage and without revealing any documents then, yeah, I can see how they'd be cool with that.

    What troubles me the most is that no matter how seriously they get their asses handed to them (although, unfortunately, that's not bloody likely) the American public won't give a damn and will not penalize them by taking their business elsewhere.

    • ewindisch says:

      > the American public won't give a damn
      > and will not penalize them by taking their business elsewhere.

      First, you're right -- the American public won't give a damn.

      Second, even if they DID give a damn.. AT&T wouldn't be boycotted. They still hold a monopoly in many areas, and where they *don't* hold an obvious monopoly, they may hold a transparent one.

      Now, you might ask what is a transparent monopoly? How about the fact that where I live, Comcast holds a monopoly on broadband internet access -- Comcast receive 100% of its bandwidth (at least here) through AT&T.

      I would need to either move to dialup, or move to another town to leave AT&T -- and even then, they would still own the wires moving my data, even if they wouldn't own the routers.

      • belgand says:

        Good point. I had originally considered that it likely wouldn't be possible since even though long-distance calling was technically deregulated the same companies (and with the mergers they're going through we'll be back to Ma Bell in no time) tend to be just about the only game in town in most areas.

        My thought was that if people cared enough (again, that sticky problem) they could always move over to using a cell phone and give their business to someone who will only screw them in a much more obvious and legal manner. I had completely forgotten about data.

        Part of the reason I feel our country doesn't work is because our founding fathers, being idealists, assumed that other people cared about things like rights. freedom (not "freedom"), justice, and an effective, working government as much as they did. Like all idealists they were completely wrong.

        I'm willing to suspect that the average person at that time mainly cared about paying lower taxes and not getting their skull cracked in. People today are just about the same.

        • jwz says:

          Part of the reason I feel our country doesn't work is because our founding fathers, being idealists, assumed that other people cared about things like rights. freedom (not "freedom"), justice, and an effective, working government as much as they did.

          Actually, no, they had a lot of contempt for the "common man", that's why we have an electoral college and why the house and senate work the way they do: so that the wealthy land-owners could make the really important decisions.

          • belgand says:

            True, but it still seems like they assumed that the congress and anyone else placed into a position of power would care more about doing a good job than trying to maintain their own personal empire.

            The fact that term limits are never discussed and that Washington stepped down after his second term of his own volition seems to speak to this idea of dilettante governance. The very fact that only already wealthy landowners had this kind of access to governance seems to imply that it was not perceived as being it's own career (though conflicts of interest, then as now, are not protected against).

            I also stand by my idea that they assumed people were a bit more interested in serving their country and working for the public good than trying to serve in government as a form of personal gain.

            Sure they thought the common man was far too stupid to make good decisions (and based on many of the majority actions of this country it seems that they were right far too often in that regard) and unfortunately equated white, wealthy land-owner with "intelligent" (while they did have greater access to education at the time Bush goes to show that all of these factors, even education are no way to judge intelligence).

  3. telecart says:

    Bloody hell in Amerika

  4. xinit says:

    I've heard that AT&T has secret rape rooms too ...

  5. bifrosty2k says:

    I've gotta be missing something, did people forget about Carnivore?

    Besides, your data isn't secure on the net anyways. There's several schools of thought on it, but mine is "if its going across the internet, someone else is gonna see it". Thats a bit paranoid, but ssh and pgp/gpg are your friend heh. I don't even use cordless phones anymore after friends spent so much time listening to them...

    The other thing is that any old bozo who works for the phone company or an ISP can snoop your traffic/phonecalls any time they want for "diagnostic purposes" and they don't need to notify you.

  6. ammitbeast says:

    So now we know why the AT&T consolidation of the baby Bells has moved forward so quickly and smoothly. With only one company controlling the NSA taps there's less chance of the information about those taps being revealed. In theory, at least.

    Lucky for us, though, AT&T has never been too swift, so they couldn't find a good excuse to deny access to these documents. It's only now that they're saying, "Oops..." and trying to herd the cows back into the barn.

    Idiots. And you know, I'm really glad they're idiots. If your government decides to crush your civil rights it's good to have Keystone Feds & Lackeys on the job.

    • merovingian says:

      It turns out that incompetence and fascism go hand-in-hand. The first privilege any autocrat takes is immunity to consequences for its failures, which always coddles further failures.

      In Mussolini's Italy, the trains never, ever ran on time. It was just illegal to say otherwise.

      • dachte says:

        Is this based on evidence, or is it said to sound cute? Some older italians that settled locally indicated that improved public transit was one of the things Mussolini's rule brought (among, of course, things that were considerably less welcome.. "Bella Ciao" didn't write itself...)

      • gargargar says:

        actually, mussolini's reign did coincide with an improvement in commuter rail service. You see, Italy had bought a bunch of fancy new streetcars from the US just after the armistice, and they only finally got shipped and installed and everything upgraded during his rise to power. So he got to stand up and say "I have made the trains run on time" even though it was the success of his predecessors.

        Now, the only reason why this is at all worth re-hashing, is that Italy sent some of those trains back to the US a few years ago. They're bright orange and they run down Market street in San Francisco.

        Whenever I'm on one, I like to stop people and note that they used to run on time.

        However: eventually, Water Monopolies do Erode From Within.