Verizon: NSA reporting inaccurate
Verizon late Tuesday said reports that it handed over domestic telephone calling records to the National Security Agency are “simply false.”
In a press release that twice stated Verizon’s refusal to either confirm nor deny participation in “highly classified” NSA action against the al-Qaeda terrorist group, the telecom giant said reports that it was approached by the security agency and agreed to provide calling data regarding customers’ domestic phone calls are not true.
USA Today last week reported that AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon all provided massive amounts of data regarding domestic phone calls, including originating and terminating numbers and the length of calls, to the NSA for the purposes of data mining to detect calling patterns that could identify terrorist activity.
Verizon's denial of that report comes a day after BellSouth made a similar denial. Asked if his company would join the denial chorus, an AT&T spokesman said today AT&T would say nothing beyond its previous statement that it acted strictly within the law and would not comment further on national security matters.
AT&T's statement and Qwest's admission that it refused an NSA request for its calling records have prompted speculation that the NSA was seeking international calling records, which neither BellSouth nor Verizon would have. Verizon's statement appears to exclude MCI from its response.
“From the time of the 9/11 attacks until just four months ago, Verizon had three major businesses – its wireline phone business, its wireless company and its directory publishing business,” the Verizon statement read. “It also had its own Internet Service Provider and long-distance businesses. Contrary to the media reports, Verizon was not asked by NSA to provide, nor did Verizon provide, customer phone records from any of these businesses, or any call data from those records. None of these companies – wireless or wireline – provided customer records or call data.”
Verizon said it doesn’t not routinely keep records of local phone calls because most of its customers don’t pay for local measured service so there is no reason to collect such data. Reports that it is tracking that information and providing it to the NSA are false, the company said.
Two industry sources said Tuesday that the telephone companies told USA Today that its story was untrue prior to publication of that report last week. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
Company spokespeople for AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon have all cited national security issues in declining to speak further on the topic.
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