Judge: Phone Companies Never Fought Surveillance Expansion
You might have noticed that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and company were very, very quiet during this latest NSA-surveillance related scuff up. That's in part because unlike a few of the more modern tech companies (like Yahoo
, who fought secretive rubber-stamped FISA court requests), the telcos yelled "how high?" when asked to repeatedly trample privacy and wiretap laws. In some cases, companies like AT&T even advised government on how best to break the law
As such, it's not too surprising to see a letter
publicized this week from Judge Reggie Walton of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), confirming that no phone company has ever resisted a court order under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The letter notes that companies who receive FISA court orders have "multiple opportunities" to "challenge those orders or directives, either directly or through refusal to comply."
As we've covered, Section 215 of the Patriot Act states that only data that is "relevant to an ongoing terrorist investigation" can be collected. The NSA, as it has been made very clear, insists that everyone and everything is relevant, and they're gobbling up this data by the fists full -- via everything from live fiber splits at AT&T head ends, to satellite communications and undersea cable taps.
Walton's letter goes into rare detail concerning how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court operates. According to Walton, only Yahoo could be bothered to challenge an order back in 2008. Microsoft and Google have challenged orders, but only after they were made public courtesy of the Edward Snowden leaks. Again, most companies either yell "how high" (AT&T), or they pretend to be victims only after the revelations come to light (Microsoft
As for telcos, they've been at the heart of this scandal ever since NSA insiders and AT&T whistle blower Mark Klein
showed that AT&T lets the NSA have direct access to essentially every byte that crosses their network. Their blind compliance with government requests isn't too surprising given that, as former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio made clear
, companies who don't play along may harm their chances of landing lucrative government contracts or getting favorable regulation.
Re: Telco execs have their own skeletons in the closet Didn't help Nacchio was actually doing insider trading.
I don't think it's as much duress, as where's the money in fighting it.
We know the telcos expenses are generously paid for complying, and no customer would every offer to pay as well for them to fight it, if they could even ask.
If the court order appears legit and doesn't open a liability question, why fight it over a morality issue. (not in their charter)
Re: Telco execs have their own skeletons in the closet Exactly what I was thinking. Fighting these orders would require the use of attorneys, which would mean money, since, even if the lawyers were on staff, they'd be pulled away from other duties. OTOH, complying doesn't cost a thing, and, if the companies figure that there will be no adverse effects, then the decision makes perfect sense from their amoral, customers-be-damned point of view.
| |KrKHeavy Artillery For The Little GuyPremium
Re: Why fight..
said by Simba7:.... and those who fight the B.S. don't walk. Unless you count the walk down the cell block.
Like they say.. Money talks.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
| |batterupI Can Not Tell A Lie.Premium
said by dbarber:at&t must not have done it right as they were denied buying T-Mobile.
Does anyone really think that it's a coincidence that telcos are allowed to keep merging when it's against the public good and them going along with FISA court requests?