And you thought the FBI and the NSA have been involved in too many domestic surveillance issues! If the reports are accurate, then even the CIA is part of this privacy mess. Then again, it’s the Central Intelligence Agency. It’s not like they would allow themselves to be left behind in gathering information!

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Ars Technica reports that CIA has been buying phone records from no other than AT&T! I guess AT&T bashers are grinning smugly at this point, but hey, if AT&T is doing it, then who knows who else is giving up phone records for cash?

One detail that just might be comforting is that the CIA has only been getting their hands on international phone records, so if you don’t really make international calls, you’re probably safe. That’s not to say your VOIP data is not being monitored!

Naturally, the response from consumer groups is not a good one. Consumer advocacy groups have banded together, and led by Public Knowledge, are trying to get the FCC to do something about the situation.

In a blog post, Public Knowledge highlights the fact that AT&T (and other carriers that sell their customers’ information) is violating the law. Worse, after some sniffing around, it seems that other carriers (namely Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) all have the same stand with regard to sharing or selling their clients’ records. There is no proof that the others are actually releasing these records, but the fact that their privacy policies allow them to do so is certainly alarming!

So what now?

A formal petition has been filed. Will this move forward or will this be something that becomes forgotten over time? According to the same blog post mentioned above, the next step “is for the Commission to docket the petition and put it out on public notice for people to comment on it. Let’s hope the Commission does it soon. In the modern age, virtually everyone is a phone subscriber, and we have no choice but to share vast amounts of highly sensitive information with our service providers.

This is where you come in. Once that public notice has been released, every phone subscriber has to make his voice heard. Unless you don’t care that your information is being sold to others (CIA or not).

[Image via efabula]