T-Mobile, Verizon not under U.S. data watch due to foreign ties: WSJ

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 13, 2013 10:27 PM
T-Mobile, Verizon not under U.S. data watch due to foreign ties: WSJ

(Reuters) - Telecom providers T-Mobile US Inc and Verizon Wireless do not directly contribute to the controversial U.S. surveillance program, partly due to their overseas ownership ties, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Legal complications could arise from any participation by the two firms in efforts by the National Security Agency to monitor Internet and phone data of millions of Americans, the newspaper reported. (http://r.reuters.com/mug88t)

T-Mobile is majority-owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, while Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc and Britain's Vodafone Group Plc.

However, the chances of the two companies' networks not being monitored are small because most calls at some point pass through networks controlled by U.S. companies that do work with the NSA, the Journal said, citing a U.S. official.

The NSA has standing court orders with top U.S. mobile service providers AT&T Inc and Sprint to disclose information on calls over their network, the paper said.

Several companies, including Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc have come under scrutiny following disclosures last week in the Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers for their role in the NSA data collection program.

T-Mobile US, Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless and Sprint declined to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Garima Goel in Bangalore and Sinead Carew in New York)