15:08 GMT26 November 2020
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    The combined spying capabilities of the US government and private companies, typified by the revelations of AT&T colluding with the US National Security Agency (NSA), is a major threat to civil liberties, former AT&T technician and whistleblower Mark Klein told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — On Saturday, The New York Times published a story confirming the close collaboration between telecommunications giant AT&T and the NSA, based on new documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    "This threatens civil liberties, as individuals have little power against such combinations. It's intimidating," Klein said on Monday in response to revelations of AT&T assisting the NSA with US-based surveillance.

    According to documents AT&T maintained a "highly collaborative" relationship with the NSA, including helping to install surveillance equipment in 17 US-based internet hubs controlled by AT&T.

    Klein noted that US citizens are becoming "a little bit acclimated" to government surveillance and private companies breaching customers’ privacy.

    "Incidents happen when people find the government is after them," Klein explained, referring to recent reports of US intelligence and law enforcement targeting members of the Occupy Wall Street movement or the Black Lives Matter organization.

    He warned that the domestic intelligence targeting "happens in times of social struggle when the government wants to crack down."

    Klein was formerly a line technician at AT&T’s corporate office in San Francisco and the first to blow the whistle on the company’s collusion with the NSA. Before retiring in 2004, Klein documented evidence of the NSA working with AT&T technicians to tap the company’s main internet data stream.

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