Target: Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T
Goal: Stop selling customer data to law enforcement.
AT&T has allegedly been spying on Americans for profit in a program known as ‘Hemisphere,’ according to documents acquired by the Daily Beast. The documents indicate that the telecommunications giant may be making millions of dollars per year selling customer data to law enforcement. Furthermore, agreements between AT&T and government agencies allegedly prohibit agencies from using the data as evidence in court or any other legal proceedings unless no other evidence is available. This means that, while law enforcement agents allegedly open investigations of persons based upon information gained through Hemisphere’ the officers then investigate said persons until the information gained through Hemisphere can be verified through other means.
While it was previously known that telecommunications giant AT&T had an ongoing ‘partnership’ with the government to provide customer data to law enforcement — which they are obligated to do under U.S. law — it was not previously thought the company was doing so for profit. The production of this for-profit spying infrastructure is particularly concerning considering the recently announced $85 billion dollar merger between AT&T and Time Warner, a deal which would create the largest media conglomerate in history and provide AT&T with access to far more consumer data via Time Warner’s role as an internet service provider. Sign our petition to ask AT&T to stop spying on Americans for profit.
Dear Mr. Stephenson,
I was alarmed to hear allegations that your ‘partnership’ with U.S. law enforcement known as Hemisphere is a for-profit operation. While I understand that your firm is obligated to provide law enforcement data under U.S. law, producing a for-profit infrastructure for surveillance is not ethical. Your customers have a reasonable assumption of privacy, and directly profiting off undermining said privacy goes against the spirit of your contract with your customers. Furthermore, AT&T’s insistence that law enforcement officials conceal the source of their information in court encourages so-called parallel construction, and undermines the basic right to hear the evidence against you at trial.
As you know, AT&T and Time Warner are merging to produce the largest telecommunications conglomerate in history. Given Time Warner’s role as an ISP, the merger will give your firm access to far more data. I urge you to end the Hemisphere program prior to the completion of this merger, and publicly assure your customers that their data will not be given to law enforcement unless your firm is compelled to do so.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Geralt