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Verizon Mocks Yahoo, Google For NSA 'Grandstanding'
by Karl Bode 02:02PM Wednesday Sep 18 2013
The FISA Court this week released a heavily-redacted copy of a July ruling that approved renewal of the bulk metadata collection on all phone calls from US phone providers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. You'll recall that NSA collection of Verizon metadata was exposed back in June, the program coming on the heels of older revelations of wholesale monitoring of largely all real-time communications.

While companies like Yahoo and Google at least tried to put up some fight against expanding government surveillance, secret courts and gag orders, companies like AT&T and Verizon not only agreed to do what was asked -- they often agreed to take things much, much further -- including wholesale collection of every shred of data touching their networks, and even giving government agencies advice on how precisely to break wiretap and privacy law.

Considering all this, the profitability of helping government agencies snoop on U.S. citizens, and the risk of losing government contracts -- it's not too surprising that the FISA court document dump this week reiterates that none of the telcos so much as raised a single challenge in response to bulk metadata collection -- at any point:
quote:
To date, no holder of records who has received an Order to produce bulk telephony metadata has challenged the legality of such an Order. Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 Order has challenged the legality of such an Order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so.
Given Verizon and AT&T have been so quiet about all of this, it's curious that Verizon's first real comments on this issue came the same day as the FISA release. Instead of focusing on what Verizon's doing, Verizon Enterprise Solutions president John Stratton instead decided to accuse Google, Yahoo and other Silicon Valley folks of "grandstanding" because of their decision to (albeit belatedly in Microsoft's case) stand up to the government:
quote:
"I appreciate that the consumer-centric IT firms that you referenced [Yahoo, Google, Microsoft] that it's important to grandstand a bit, and wave their arms and protest loudly so as not to offend the sensibility of their customers," Stratton said..."This is not a question that will be answered by a telecom executive, this is not a question that will be answered by an IT executive. This is a question that must be answered by societies themselves.

I believe this is a bigger issue, and press releases and fizzy statements don't get at the issue; it needs to be solved by society."
Granted such "grandstanding" and "fizzy statements" have included trying to fight National Security Letters that gag companies from talking about data collection requests (Google), refusing to participate in PRISM entirely (Twitter) and being one of the only companies to challenge PRISM's legality in court (Yahoo). That's miles beyond what Verizon chose to do when faced with unprecedented, wholesale collection of user data under a legally dubious framework.

Perhaps Verizon was better off saying nothing, because mocking the companies who actually chose to stand up for their users doesn't seem like the brightest public relations choice.

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Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

2 recommendations

Verizon doesn't give a..

..crap. As long as the money's flowing, the Government can do whatever they want.

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
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2 recommendations

Shame on Verizon

"I appreciate that the consumer-centric IT firms that you referenced [Yahoo, Google, Microsoft] that it's important to grandstand a bit, and wave their arms and protest loudly so as not to offend the sensibility of their customers," Stratton said
In case it wasn't already clear, Verizon's most important customer is the U.S. government and its intelligence arms like the NSA. Your privacy, the constitution, and federal laws are worthless in their eyes. It was nice of Stratton to drive home that point.

Maybe Stratton can clarify how much the NSA (and other intelligence agencies) pay Verizon annually for their help with spying on U.S. citizens.

StuartMW
Who Is John Galt?
Premium
join:2000-08-06
Galt's Gulch
kudos:3

Re: Shame on Verizon

said by morbo:

Maybe Stratton can clarify how much the NSA (and other intelligence agencies) pay Verizon annually for their help with spying on U.S. citizens.

Such "favors" are not direct. That'd be seen as a bribe and probably illegal.

The way it works is that one receives "consideration" which is an unwritten but understood agreement that one shall receive certain undefined benefits as a result of doing certain things.

This kind of thing happens all the time. Washington is full on lobbyists that pay Congresscritters etc in varied ways just not brown paper bags full of cash (which would be illegal). Of course Lobbying is legal since they've made it so.

Right and wrong are moral concepts not legal ones. Some people have no idea of the difference.
--
Don't feed trolls--it only makes them grow!
DanteX

join:2010-09-09
kudos:1

Re: Shame on Verizon

So how does Lobbying differ from Bribery?

StuartMW
Who Is John Galt?
Premium
join:2000-08-06
Galt's Gulch
kudos:3

Re: Shame on Verizon

Congress made lobbying legal so therefore it's ok.

IMO there is a fine line between giving people cold hard cash (bribery) and paying for their trips, meals etc (lobbying). Both are done in an unwritten expectation of some favor.
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Don't feed trolls--it only makes them grow!

boogi man

join:2001-11-13
Jacksonville, FL
kudos:1

Re: Shame on Verizon

direct bribery is 'dirty'
lobbying is considered slimy but needed to get things done via favors, donations, voters etc basically all that get done so that one suit can bend the ear of and make a case to the congresscritter(s) of choice

dbCooper

@204.145.8.x

Immunity

Recall, congress gave all the telcos immunity for prosecution, retroactively. We would they ever protest, especially given the wiretaps are a profit center for them.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL

Cynical as hell, but he has a point

Look, I'm not defending what he said, but he has a point. It's one thing for companies to publicly oppose this shit, but how effective is this opposition when you really get down to it? At the end of the day, is their opposition having any real effect, or are they pissing in the wind? I suspect it's some of the former and most of the latter.

But he's absolutely right that, when you get down to it, this is a societal issue. Unless you have a really large segment of society shouting very loudly that this behavior is unacceptable and must cease, then nothing will get done to stop it. We have to come to a clear consensus about what kind of country we want to live in, and I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but there are lots of people out there who believe that the government should have free reign to do whatever it wants in order to make them feel safe as they fall asleep at night. They either don't think there are any real tradeoffs, or they simply don't care what those tradeoffs are, as long as they feel safe. And those people vote. And then there are the ones who are only outraged when it's the other party in power when these abuses are uncovered. You can see that factor in play both now and back in 2005, when more or less the same shenanigans were uncovered.

Again, I completely disagree with this guy's cynicism, but there's some truth in it.

FLATLINE

join:2007-02-27
Buffalo, NY

Disgusting

All I know is these people who work for the government and the companies we trust with our data who made the decision and those who abide by it are all scumbags. If I knew any of those people whether they were friends, family, mothers, or fathers I'd be ashamed of them and would be distancing myself as much as possible. I don't care what they do in other countries anymore and I don't care what excuses they give in this one. But this is not the sort of behavior that's not consistant with the core values of being American.

I don't claim America as being perfect. We've made more than our fair share of mistakes but that changes nothing. This is still AntiAmerican behavior and its up to society to figure that out and punish those involved.

meeeeeeeeee

join:2003-07-13
Newburgh, NY

Re: Disgusting

Welcome to the new Amerika, whose citizens are a curious cross of humans and sheep that dutifully drink their koolaid and hide under their beds from "terrorists" and "child pornographers" that their government tells them are hiding behind every bush. As long as they have their Facedrool and can watch Amerikans Idle, they are content spending their lives playing video games.

One CAN'T be anti-American. America ceased to exist decades ago.
--
"when the people have suffered many abuses under the control of a totalitarian leader, they not only have the right but the duty to overthrow that government." - The U.S. Declaration of Independence

FLATLINE

join:2007-02-27
Buffalo, NY

Re: Disgusting

I understand what your saying and its hard to argue your points but where does that leave me? Where does that leave those like me? I know im not the only one who still believes in America and American values.

meeeeeeeeee

join:2003-07-13
Newburgh, NY

1 edit

Re: Disgusting

Personally, I've found people who still hold those values dear and live by them. They live in a country with a government probably no less corrupt than ours (but much less professional at it), but it goes largely ignored by the people. They don't expect much from it and are rarely disappointed lol. I'm looking to emigrate there and spend my twilight years surrounded by warm, caring, moral, ethical people instead of lazy, spoiled, stupid sheeple. Don't get me wrong, it's not Nirvana, the country has more than it's share of problems, but maybe in my own small way I can use the knowledge I've gained over the years to help fix some of them... or at least try to make things better for the people I've learned to know and love.

It's funny, though so very sad. When I am there, I feel "at home". Here, in the land of my birth, I feel a foreigner.
--
"when the people have suffered many abuses under the control of a totalitarian leader, they not only have the right but the duty to overthrow that government." - The U.S. Declaration of Independence

linicx
Caveat Emptor
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United State

I hope

I hope they enjoy recording my hours of tech chats concerning old houses and other subjects.
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