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NYS Comptroller


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November 20, 2013, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Shareholder Resolution Calls on AT&T to Disclose Surveillance Requests

The $160.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) has filed a shareholder resolution at AT&T Inc. (AT&T) asking the company to disclose how often and what consumer information it has shared with U.S. or foreign governments, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. The resolution will be voted on at the company’s 2014 annual meeting scheduled for late April.

“Customer trust is critical for any business, but nowhere is it more so than for those corporations that handle our personal data and communications,” DiNapoli said. “AT&T has not made it clear to investors or customers what data it shares or with whom. Customers should not be the last to know how their personal information is being used by governmental agencies.”

The resolution cites global scrutiny of corporations in the wake of press coverage over U.S. government surveillance programs. Google, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Yahoo! have all published “transparency reports” disclosing information on government data requests. Additionally, Google and Microsoft have sought court approval to disclose further information to the public concerning these requests.

“Privacy is clearly one of the most critical business issues of the digital age. Companies that fail to actively defend the privacy rights of their customers expose themselves – and their shareholders – to significant legal, reputational and financial risk,” said Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC, a non-profit organization that works with investors on media issues. “Comptroller DiNapoli is to be commended for demonstrating real leadership with this resolution.”

The resolution, filed in early November, asks AT&T to use existing transparency reports published by the major internet companies as models to publish semi-annual reports, subject to existing laws and regulations, on requests for customer information provided to U.S. and foreign governments. AT&T may, at its discretion, omit information on routine requests provided under individualized warrants.

DiNapoli’s resolution also asks AT&T to include information on (1) how often AT&T has shared information with U.S. or foreign government entities; (2) what type of customer information was shared; (3) the number of customers affected; (4) type of government requests; and (5) discussion of efforts by the company to protect the privacy of such customer data.

As of November 8, the Fund owned 15,709,913 shares of AT&T valued at approximately $552.5 million.

A companion resolution has been filed at Verizon by Trillium Asset Management, LLC, a Boston-based investment management firm. The resolution at AT&T is co-filed with Trillium, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Arjuna Capital.


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