The CIA is paying AT&T, a US telecommunications corporation headquartered in Texas, more than $10mln per year to gain access to the company's vast database of phone records, media reports said.
A report issued by the New York Times on Thursday, said that AT&T provides the CIA with call data from phone numbers. The arrangement not only covers the calls of AT&T customers, but also any call that travels through its telecom infrastructure.
While most of the calls in question are made overseas, some calls to and from the US are included in the data haul, according to the report.
AT&T (T, Fortune 500) did not confirm or deny the reported deal with the CIA, but it did say that sometimes the company is paid by governments to provide information.
"In all cases, whenever any government entity anywhere seeks information from us, we ensure that the request and our response are completely lawful and proper," said AT&T in a statement to CNNMoney. "Like all telecom providers, we routinely charge governments for producing the information provided. We do not comment on questions concerning national security."
The report pulls back the curtain a little further on how personal data is collected by the US government -- with or without the consent of the communications companies that hold it.