Boycott AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth

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Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records


This morning, USA Today reported that three telecommunications companies – AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth – provided "phone call records of tens of millions of Americans" to the National Security Agency. Such conduct appears to be illegal and could make the telco firms liable for tens of billions of dollars. Here's why:



1. It violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customer's consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by "administrative subpoena." The first four clearly don't apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer – the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.


2. The penalty for violating the Stored Communications Act is $1000 per individual violation. Section 2707 of the Stored Communications Act gives a private right of action to any telephone customer "aggrieved by any violation." If the phone company acted with a "knowing or intentional state of mind," then the customer wins actual harm, attorney's fees, and "in no case shall a person entitled to recover receive less than the sum of $1,000."


(The phone companies might say they didn't "know" they were violating the law. But USA Today reports that Qwest's lawyers knew about the legal risks, which are bright and clear in the statute book.)


3. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act doesn't get the telcos off the hook. According to USA Today, the NSA did not go to the FISA court to get a court order. And Qwest is quoted as saying that the Attorney General would not certify that the request was lawful under FISA. So FISA provides no defense for the phone companies, either.


In other words, for every 1 million Americans whose records were turned over to NSA, the telcos could be liable for $1 billion in penalties, plus attorneys fees. You do the math.

Im cancelling my Verizon cell phone account as we speak.

Any suggestions for a replacement??

lol, don't worry about the fact that those companies own the fiberoptic cables that make it possible for you to post this retarded shit.

lol, don't worry about the fact that those companies own the fiberoptic cables that make it possible for you to post this retarded shit.

Nick,

phone calls are a private matter and the records sghould be made available only after a court order(og lawyers can correct me if I am wrong). You expect your phone company to ensure your privacy. Because they own the fiber optic cable we use, does not give them the right to do as they please.

youre all going to die anyway....

that's my new arguement for everything....

so friggin what...they know you called 1900hotguyz....so what you're gonna friggin die anyway

Are phone calls more private than what I download? More private than emails etc? I'm curious as RIAA etc were forcing ISP to hand in info ... why is this different?

"why is this different?"

causeyou're going to die and they want to get as much money from you as they can

t-mobile....

mmmh i was watching TUF last night and apparently you can get unlimited minutes for life if you spend 100 bucks a month.

and not only that you can make people tackle wedding cakes, and stick ham down their pants!!!

"The speech of a phone call is private"

Interesting ... I wonder how VOIP is going to affect this as then your voice is broken into packets that are similar to packets that are being downloaded etc. Are tcp/ip packets private? I doubt it.

encrypted SIP (VoIP protocol) widely deployed using strong crypto = NSA is super-fucked.

Skype is already encrypted by default.

crypto is out of the bag now, and it can all be done in software, so NSA would have big problems stopping it

the problem is for now, dialing out to a land-land = encryption stripped.

and God would bless the EFF, if he existed.

"The record of a phone call (number called, length of call, frequency of calling that number) is not private."

Then why didn't the NSA get a legal court order to get at Qwest's records? If it's so legal, it should've been a piece of cake. In fact, Qwest even asked them to get a court order, or even just a letter from the NSA stating the legality of the request, and the NSA wouldn't provide either.

RoR, I just googled EFF. Cool shit! And lol at the main page AT&T logo!

I disagree with a fair amount of their stuff, but EFF is really fighting to keep the Net and technology free.

check out the Network Neutrality stuff as well.

trust,

do police need a court order to get your phone records?

Trust is correct up to a point.

pen-registers and trap-and-trace tapping (basically, the kind of stuff he is describing) is legal for law enforcement without a warrant.

the problem is, though, the NSA does not have any perview I know of for domestic spying, beyond when an American is calling/communicating outside the U.S. (they can tap it, it's kosher)

they aren't cops and they aren't supposed to act like cops, they are a foriegn intelligence agency intended to spy on foreigners abroad and have vast powers and a huge budget to do so.

they aren't the FBI, so domestic survelliance is not their bag.

moreover, a police force would have their tapping priviledges pulled with the quickness if they started to collect calling records for everyone in their town, regardless of what reason, and went on fishing expeditions.

the NSA wanted all the records.

"pen-registers and trap-and-trace tapping (basically, the kind of stuff he is describing) is legal for law enforcement without a warrant."

I thought it was legal for only up to 72 hours?