A group that aims to protect electronic freedoms is suing a private telecommunications company in a class action lawsuit that claims the company gave the National Security Agency direct access to massive amounts of communications data.
"The government did not act alone – and is not acting alone," lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a complaint filed against AT&T Tuesday. "The government requires the collaboration of major telecommunications companies to implement its unprecedented and illegal spying program."
The suit claims that the NSA program is illegal, that AT&T serves many millions of customers contacting people in foreign countries through their long distance and Internet services and that it appears AT&T has been giving direct access to customers' personal and protected data at least since 2001.
The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California on behalf of an unknown number of customers nationwide and in the Sunshine State, alleges that the company's conduct violates several federal competition and privacy rules as well as First and Fourth Amendment rights.
EFF points to AT&T's databases, which it says handled more than 300 million voice calls and over 4,000 terabytes (million megabytes) of data, which is about 200 times the data contained in the entire Library of Congress. It cites media reports, including a Dec. 22 Los Angeles Times story indicating that the NSA has had and continues to have direct access to the database, a proprietary tool that AT&T researchers developed and named Daytona.