partlycloudy
Tuesday September 1st, 2015 4:05AM

AT&T to publish info on data requests

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - AT&T says it will publish reports on the number of requests for customer information it receives from law enforcement agencies, the latest move in the telecommunications industry toward fuller disclosure amid debate over government surveillance programs.

The announcement by the largest U.S. telecom company came a day after rival Verizon Communications said it will make public the legal demands it has received.

Dallas-based AT&T says it will publish a report twice a year online. The first one, covering requests received this year, will be out early next year.

The controversy has deepened over data-gathering by the National Security Agency. The NSA's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records under secret court order was revealed in June in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

MORE: Verizon to publish data on phone record requests

Major shareholders of AT&T and Verizon demanded last month that the companies disclose their dealings with the NSA.

To the extent allowed by law, AT&T said its "transparency" report will include the total number of requests it receives from law enforcement agencies in criminal cases, a breakdown of the number of subpoenas, court orders and warrants received, the number of customers affected and details about the legal demands it receives.

"Any disclosures regarding classified information should come from the government, which is in the best position to determine what can be lawfully disclosed and would or would not harm national security," AT&T said in a statement from Wayne Watts, senior executive vice president and general counsel.

"When it comes to governmental surveillance and requests for customer information, all companies are compelled to comply with the laws of the country in which they operate," Watts's statement said. "We take our responsibility to protect our customers' information and privacy very seriously and pledge to continue to do so to the fullest extent possible."

MORE: Snowden says ruling vindicates leak of NSA files

AT&T has said previously that it protects customer information and complies with government requests for records "only to the extent required by law."

Several major Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo publish periodic reports disclosing the number of requests from federal agencies and local police departments for personal data, which cover such things as email communications.

Until now, however, telecommunications companies haven't filed such reports.

The reports by the Internet companies don't provide specifics about the number of orders that the companies receive through the secret court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to fight terrorism.

A presidential advisory panel this week recommended sweeping changes to the surveillance programs. Those include limiting the bulk collection of phone records by stripping the NSA of its ability to store that data in its own facilities. Instead, the data would be required to be held by the phone companies or a third party

President Barack Obama said Friday that the idea of having the phone companies keep the records was worth consideration. He did acknowledge "that might cost more; there might have to be different checks on how those requests are made."

Still, Obama said at a news conference, it's worth asking whether such a plan makes sense, "because right now people are concerned that their phone calls are being listened to even if they're not."

An opinion from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was declassified in September, said no company that has received an order to turn over bulk phone records has challenged the directive.

The opinion by Judge Claire Eagan spelled out her reasons for reauthorizing the NSA phone records collection for three months. Eagan concluded that the bulk collection of phone records does not violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

But a federal judge in Washington ruled Monday that the phone records collection is likely unconstitutional, calling the operation "Orwellian" in scale. The government is expected to appeal the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who put his ruling on hold "in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues."

The Obama administration has defended the program as a crucial tool against terrorism. The Supreme Court may well have the last word.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 1 year ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
Police investigate motive of man accused of ambushing Texas officer at gas station
HOUSTON (AP) — The man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a uniformed suburban Houston sheriff's deputy had a lengthy criminal record going back a decade, but never spent more than s...
7:57PM ( 1 day ago )
Common Core test results trickle in, but goal of comparing among states goes unfulfilled
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Results for some of the states that participated in Common Core-aligned testing for the first time this spring are out, with overall scores higher than expected though still below w...
8:42AM ( 1 day ago )
Hawaii's Big Island under tropical storm watch as Ignacio is upgraded to Category 4 hurricane
HONOLULU (AP) — The Big Island of Hawaii is bracing for high winds, heavy rain and ocean swells of up to 20 feet as strengthening Hurricane Ignacio approaches the state.Ignacio has grown to a Category...
8:20PM ( 2 days ago )
At events both somber and raucous, Gulf Coast marks 10th Katrina anniversary, looks to future
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As the church bells rang marking the decade since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the 80-year-old woman wept softly into a tissue as she leaned against her rusting Oldsmobi...
6:38PM ( 2 days ago )
US immigration patterns shift: India, China outpacing Mexico as more skilled workers arrive
DALLAS (AP) — Siddharth Jaganath wanted to return to India after earning his master's degree at Texas' Southern Methodist University. Instead, he built a new life in the U.S. over a decade, becoming a...
6:03PM ( 2 days ago )