The New York Times believes that the story in newly released Snowden documents is about a cozy relationship between the NSA and AT&T. “AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale,” the headline screams.
Hmm . . . the NSA has a relationship with one of the largest American telecommunications providers. Who knew? For better or worse, the fact that any major U.S. telecom is in bed with the NSA is a dog-bites-man story, if ever there was one.
The real news is buried in the eighteenth paragraph:
Many privacy advocates have suspected that AT&T was giving the N.S.A. a copy of all Internet data to sift for itself. But one 2012 presentation says the spy agency does not “typically” have “direct access” to telecoms’ hubs. Instead, the telecoms have done the sifting and forwarded messages the government believes it may legally collect.
“Corporate sites are often controlled by the partner, who filters the communications before sending to N.S.A.,” according to the presentation. This system sometimes leads to “delays” when the government sends new instructions, it added.
In other words, allegations that critics have been making for years that the NSA has direct access to all the data transiting the Internet backbone have now been contradicted by classified NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Now that’s news!