AT&T accused of violating privacy law with sale of phone records to CIA

Ars Technica: Consumer advocates have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare that AT&T violated a privacy rule in the Communications Act by selling phone records to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

A report last month said that “AT&T has turned over international calling records to the CIA. The telecom charges the CIA more than $10 million per year in exchange for access to metadata about calls by suspected terrorists overseas.”

In response, a group of consumer advocacy groups led by Public Knowledge filed a petition today with the FCC.

Appealing to the FCC is a new tactic against government collection of calling records. Previously, privacy advocates have tried to shut down the phone collection by filing lawsuits, including one in the Supreme Court. [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, Reuters reports: Verizon Communications Inc told activist investors on Wednesday that it might skip a vote on a shareholder proposal that seeks details on the company’s cooperation with government surveillance efforts.

Verizon’s law firm Jones Day said in a November 25 letter that the company would exclude the measure from its 2014 proxy statement unless the activists did more to verify their eligibility to file the proposal.

The company’s response appears to be more aggressive than the stance AT&T Inc took against a similar proposal, said Jonas Kron, senior vice president for Trillium Asset Management, a co-filer of the measures at both telecommunications companies.

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