The National Security Agency isn't the only arm of the U.S. government accessing and collecting Americans' phone records.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pays AT&T more than $10 million a year for access to the company's phone records, according to a report published Thursday by the New York Times. The report cited unnamed government officials who said the CIA uses the classified program for the surveillance of terrorism suspects overseas.
The agency provides the company with suspects' phone numbers and in turn receives records of calls, according to the report. In most cases, both parties in the call are foreign, but in some instances one end may be in the U.S. In the latter instance, AT&T "masks" parts of the domestic party's phone number and protects the person's identity because it is illegal for the CIA to spy on Americans.
“The C.I.A. protects the nation and upholds privacy rights of Americans by ensuring that its intelligence collection activities are focused on acquiring foreign intelligence and counterintelligence in accordance with U.S. laws,” CIA spokesman Dean Boyd told The Times.