The CIA is spying on AT&T customers with cash instead of a court order. A recent Wall Street Journal article exposed the practice of paying for information to the tune of $10 million. So how much information are they getting from Americans and who is at risk?
Naturally, AT&T customers are upset. They see it as just another invasion of their privacy that's become so common over the last couple years.
"I would think in America we'd have some kind of accountability but I guess I was wrong," said AT&T customer Austin Pieratt.
According to the Wall Street Journal the $10 million dollar contract the CIA has with AT&T is being used to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations, which includes American's international calls.
"I don't mind spying on our adversaries but spy on our own populous? I think there's definitely a problem," said Pieratt.
Ryan Kiesel is the executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. He doesn't know much about the CIA program, but if it's anything like what we've been learning about the NSA he's worried.
"These large telecom companies shouldn't be retaining our data for as long as they're retaining it," said Kiesel.
The Wall Street Journal article says most call logs provided by AT&T involve foreign to foreign calls and when a call does involved a United States citizen, the identity of that person and their full phone number are hidden. Kiesel says if American data is being accessed government organizations need to have probable cause.
"There's something more than just a fishing expedition for criminal activity that may or may not exist," said Kiesel.
An AT&T spokesperson did release a statement saying "In all cases, whenever any governmental entity anywhere seeks information from us, we ensure that the request and our response are completely lawful and proper. We ensure that we maintain customer information in compliance with the laws of the United States and other countries where information may be maintained. Like all telecom providers, we routinely charge governments for producing the information provided. We do not comment on questions concerning national security."
Kiesel says he hopes lawmakers act to prevent government organizations from invading our privacy any further.
"Federal response that would increase oversight and then limit the amount of data that they're able to collect on law abiding American citizens," Kiesel said.
According to the article, the CIA provides phone numbers of overseas terrorism suspects to AT&T and the company searches its database for any records that may aid in the investigation.