Telcos Vastly Overcharge Government for Snooping
AP Again Notes That Trampling Privacy Rights Very Profitable
by Karl Bode 09:20AM Thursday Jul 11 2013 Tipped by FFH
Helping the government snoop on citizens can often help net ISPs large government contracts, the kind which former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio insisted his company was prevented from getting
when Qwest refused to participate in the government's warrantless wiretap program. But as noted previously in leaks
, many wireless and fixed line ISPs make a pretty penny on surveillance requests, something the AP is again noting in a new article this week
. While much of the NSA snooping is done gratis, many wiretaps can get expensive very quickly for Uncle Sam:
AT&T, for example, imposes a $325 "activation fee" for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.
There's a few cases still pending that accuse companies like AT&T of charging an inordinate amount for wiretaps, despite the fact that very little actual work is involved. New York criminal prosecutor John Prather sued several carriers in Federal court back in 2009 for over-charging the government and law enforcement, and that case is still pending:
Prather says his staff, while he was working as a city prosecutor, would receive convoluted bills with extraneous fees..."They were monstrously more than what the telecoms could ever hope to charge for similar services in an open, competitive market, and the costs charged to the governments by telecoms did not represent reasonable prices as defined in the code of federal regulations," the lawsuit said.
Welcome to the modern telecom market, Mr. Prather.