New York comptroller questions AT&T surveillance report plan

NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Credit: Getty Image
NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapol questioned the AT&T plan to report a semi-annual rundown of how it works with Government on surveillance. Credit: Getty Image

A plan by AT&T to explain how it shares some customer information with government agencies may not be enough to restore public trust, an attorney for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told securities regulators in a letter provided to Reuters.

The attorney’s letter dated January 6 keeps alive a surveillance debate the telecommunications giant had aimed to settle in December – part of a growing national discussion of privacy rights fueled by the revelations of former government security contractor Edward Snowden.

Under pressure from shareholder activists AT&T promised last month to publish a semi-annual rundown of things like how many law-enforcement agency requests it gets in criminal cases.

But DiNapoli’s office is worried the company’s report could exclude pertinent details, for instance its sharing of customer calling records or requests for information the U.S. company might receive from foreign governments on calls by religious dissidents. By leaving out such specifics, the letter from DiNapoli’s attorney states, AT&T’s report “would fail to address its essential objectives of restoring public trust.”

AT&T representatives did not respond to questions.

DiNapoli oversees the $160.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which owned 15.7 million AT&T shares as of November. That month DiNapoli and other privacy advocates had proposed shareholder resolutions at AT&T and rival Verizon Communications Inc for their springtime shareholder meetings.

The resolutions asked each company for details of customer information-sharing, and followed revelations from Snowden of close ties between government agencies and technology firms.

The shareholders say the ties could pose business risks if customers lose faith in the companies to protect confidential information.

Both companies have asked the SEC for permission to leave the proposals off their proxy material partly because of their promises to publish more details on their data sharing. The agency will likely rule on the requests in coming weeks.

Jonas Kron, senior vice-president of Trillium Asset Management, the lead sponsor of the resolution at Verizon, said it is reviewing Verizon’s request to the SEC. How Trillium responds, he said, will depend on the substance of the first report Verizon issues that is due early this year.

Kron noted concerns such as whether Verizon would only provide details of its interaction with “law enforcement” agencies, which could exclude spy agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency. A Verizon spokesman declined to comment beyond its filings to the SEC.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…

Style

Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.