Verizon: We Protect Our Customers' Data... Until The Government Asks For It

from the um,-that's-not-protecting dept

So, Verizon has finally come out with a statement about the fact that they're handing over all data on every call anyone on its network makes to the government. And the response is just as ridiculous as you'd expect:
You may have seen stories in the news about a top secret order Verizon allegedly received to produce certain calling information to the U.S. government.

We have no comment on the accuracy of The Guardian newspaper story or the documents reference, but a few items in these stores are important. The alleged court order that The Guardian published on its website contains language that:
  • compels Verizon to respond;
  • forbids Verizon from revealing the order's existence; and
  • excludes from production the "content of any communication . . . or the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer."
Verizon continually takes steps to safeguard its customers' privacy. Nevertheless, the law authorizes the federal courts to order a company to provide information in certain circumstances, and if Verizon were to receive such an order, we would be required to comply.
Let's parse that a bit. First, to "not comment" on it is ridiculous. This is the same issue I had with the government pretending that leaked Wikileaks documents had never leaked. It's not reality-based. In the business world, if you sign a non-disclosure agreement, it only applies to information that remains private. If the same information becomes public through other means, it's recognized that the non-disclosure agreement no longer applies. Because that's living in reality. Pretending you can't comment on the document is not reality-based.

Second, the claim that "Verizon continually takes steps to safeguard its customers' privacy" is completely meaningless when they're handing every bit of that data over to the government. Third, the idea that this order "excludes" information like someone's name is pretty silly. Don't you think that the federal government might have a giant database, in the form of a basic phone book that lets them look up the name associated with each number?

But, most importantly, this whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly and ignores some of the history. When the government asks you to break the law, you have the right to say no. And here's the big thing: even if this is legal today, that only came about because various telcos worked with the government on broad lawbreaking in the past, only to have the government paper that over with new laws that made such things "legal" and included retroactive immunity. And, really, that's all that Verizon really cares about (and you'll note they don't mention it): that they have no liability for coughing up everyone's information.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 6:16am

    Verizon rep, drink in hand

    'We don't always hand over any and all information on our customers, but when we do, we make sure to lie about it'.

     

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  2.  
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    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Who'e the bad guy?

    "We are not the bad guys, there is a court order making us hand over your information." - Verizon

    "We are not the bad guys, we are protecting you." - Obama

    "We are not the bad guys, maybe we did or didn't know about this. We can't remember." - Politicians

    "We are not the bad guys, we aren't collecting any information." - NSA


    I guess the bad guys are the citizens using their phones?

     

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  3.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:50am

    Re: Who'e the bad guy?

    The government are the bad guys. These companies have no choice under the Patriot Act to hand over the data when requested.

    Verizon, Google, Facebook, Apple etc have their hands tied by the Patriot Act.

     

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  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    YES IT IS. But one AC has already trotted it out in a prior thread as applied to Google.

    I'd cautiously hope that Mike has got a clue to the surveillance state, especially as regards Google, but he's just bogged down discussing what NSA has been doing (it's news only to Mike), when the real urgency is to get ahead and find out what this rather large "leak" is covering NOW and for future.

    One item it's covering is the Bilderberg conference. You should all read this speculation -- not least because Alex Jones has vastly larger readership than soft, sane, Google-puppie Mike who's a behind at best:
    Google-Berg: Global Elite Transforms Itself For Technocratic Revolution
    http://www.infowars.com/google-berg-global-elite-transforms-itself-for-technocratic-revo lution/

     

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  5.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    Patriot Act, dumbass.

    When that is invoked, no one has a choice.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Verizon

    Verizon doesn't always take steps to safeguard its customers' privacy; but when it does, an illegal government request swiftly takes care of that.

     

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  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Who'e the bad guy? @ "ZakidaPaul":

    "Verizon, Google, Facebook, Apple etc have their hands tied by the Patriot Act."

    So the excusing begins.

    BUT YOUR EXCUSING IT IS ANSWERED RIGHTLY BY MIKE HISSELF:
    "But, most importantly, this whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly and ignores some of the history. When the government asks you to break the law, you have the right to say no. And here's the big thing: even if this is legal today, that only came about because various telcos worked with the government on broad lawbreaking in the past, only to have the government paper that over with new laws that made such things "legal" and included retroactive immunity. And, really, that's all that Verizon really cares about (and you'll note they don't mention it): that they have no liability for coughing up everyone's information.

     

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  8.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Who'e the bad guy?

    They most certainly did have a choice. They could have said "Get fucked and if you ever come to us with something like this again, we'll have the press on speed-dial."

    No way in hell would the government have been willing to risk airing its dirty laundry enough to prosecute.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Who'e the bad guy? @ "ZakidaPaul":

    For once, I agree with out_of_the_blue.

    The PATRIOT act is not excuse.

    If you know in your mind that what the government is asking you to do is illegal it is your duty to say "Hell no! Go fuck yourself! I'm getting a lawyer!".

    Doing otherwise is spitting in the graves of the founding fathers.

     

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  10.  
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    justok (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Can

    Can you hear me now?
    Yes, we can hear everyone.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Government has info on terrorist!

    *Sir! We've learned that one of the call records we got from Verizon contains info that could help us catch a known terrorist!
    Boss: *Great! Just pull up the record and we'll go pick him up.
    *No problem! (Starts Search)
    Computer: (Time remaining: 1 year, 3 months, 2 days, 5 hours, 6 minutes and 49 seconds)
    :O

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    Civil disobedience is an option. Taking matters publicly to court is an option. Publicizing the oppressive nature of a largely unpopular law and how it effects us today is an option. Growing a pair is an option.

     

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  13.  
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    The Real Michael, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    Re: Verizon rep, drink in hand

    Stay thirsty, my friends.

     

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  14. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    @ Zakida Paul
    Patriot Act, dumbass.

    When that is invoked, no one has a choice.


    As I just pointed out to your prior, this is refuted ABOVE by Mike hisself. It's quite odd that Mike and I agree entirely on his last paragraph, and YOU are making excuses for corporations. A paradigm has apparently shifted.

    A corporation has resources to resist the gov't. Google in particular has trumpeted how they're oh-so-careful with user data, and resisting the gov't, requiring court orders and so on. All of that is now shown to be LYING.

    But the Nuremberg defense "I was only following orders" isn't valid nor lawful. When someone tells you to break the law, you are on the spot to push back and REFUSE to do it. That's the moral course, cost you what it may. People went to jail rather than be drafted and kill others for the gov't in Vietnam. Others "fragged", killed their officers rather than go murder innocent civilians. That still applies in the military (it's why they fake up "just cause" to make the troops believe they're the good guys), so definitely applies to the corporate world.

    "Freedom is the right to say no." Frederick Brown, in The Great Explosion

    And if a rather small number of people JUST SAY NO I'M NOT GOING ALONG, I'M NOT COMMITTING THAT CRIME, the tyranny collapses.

    But YOU, "ZakidaPaul", are a SERF and have the mind of a serf.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Verizon doesn't care about the data it hands over to the government, as long as it isn't anything to do with the Verizon business. like every other business today, it has about as much interest in keeping customers data safe as i have of being a spaceman! the reason here is again down to the government really. there is no competition so when something like this happens, customers cant move to another provider even if one exists that does care about keeping customers data safe and private!

     

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  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Because that's living in reality. Pretending you can't comment on the document is not reality-based.

    No, the reality is that they are not permitted, by law, to comment. That's the reality, Mikey.



    LOL! You think they had the right to ignore the court order? God, you're an insufferable idiot. And coward. Bawk!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    How long would such an entity be around if they were to do that?

     

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  18.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    Re:

    AJ, get off the computer, you're drunk (again).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Who'e the bad guy?

    And the government would just bully them into complying anyway. Meanwhile they would spend a small fortune on legal fees and such.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Greggore, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:29am

    The thing is

    The thing is, is that real terrorists and bad guys, know enough to stay off the net. The NSA, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, Military Intelligence..... (How many "Intelligence" organizations does one country need!!!??) are tracking average joe's and jane's and keeping detailed information on people they don't like. I'm sure the DOJ has been using this to spy on Defense Lawyers and their clients! Don't think for a second that they haven't! If the British Tabloids could do it don't you think the US Government does it all the time.

    This can not stand the way it is, the people have to make the stand to have this changed. Many people think "well I'm not doing anything wrong so it doesn't affect me" but it's not just about people doing something wrong, it's also about people who get on the wrong side of the government "LEGALLY" that they will use these resources against you.

    Try to organize a protest?
    Try to organize changing a law?
    or to defend some one accused?
    try to say "hey, I think Private M******* doesn't deserve what he's getting"
    Try to electronically support a cause that the government doesn't like!

    You do not have to be a criminal for the government to not like you.....you don't even have to have the government not like you, just one person in the government. Do we really trust ALL the millions of people working in the government?? I don't and neither should anyone.

     

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  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    Damn, blue, that's two comments of yours I've clicked "insightful" on now. (This one even in spite of that unnecessary personal attack at the end).

    Maybe paradigm have indeed shifted. Or maybe it's just that anybody can find something to agree on.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Greggore, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    I'm so happy I use a BlackBerry device!

    notice BES and BBM are not on the list :)

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    (This one even in spite of that unnecessary personal attack at the end).

    Hmmm.... I saw ootb—my eyes immediately glazed over, and I skimmed straight to end. Saw only the "SERF" bit, 'cause it was shouting.

    Thought about clicking "report". Decided too much trouble—I normally surf with javascript off. And I usually won't turn it on to report anything except out-and-out commercial spam. So didn't bother reporting, figured let it slide (again). But did think everyone else would "report" soon enough.

     

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  24.  
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    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    Money...

    Reading this article and many of the others on the net about this subject, I wonder if perhaps Verizon and the other companies are compliant because money is involved.

    If the government is reimbursing the companies for cooperating, perhaps that would explain why they are so willing to roll over against their customers.

    These large communications corporations certainly have enough money and lawyers to appeal an order like this.

    Since none of them are stating they tried this tactic it makes me think they sought no legal recourse against the order for securing citizen information.

    Perhaps money eased their collective consciences?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Bill, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:45am

    Whatever happened to the Privacy Act of 1974?

    I'll quote just a small section that seems to apply, but there seems to be a lot more in there that the government is flat-out ignoring or violating:

    5 U.S.C. § 552a (e)(7): "Each agency that maintains a system of records shall maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity."

    So, either the entire American population is made up of criminals (thereby requiring some sort of blanket law enforcement), or we have all authorized this access, and just don't know it.

    Either way, it might be a good idea for us to take a look at § 552a (g)(1) which deals with civil remedies, including suits that can be brought against government agencies that fail to comply with this Act ...

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Re: Whatever happened to the Privacy Act of 1974?

    Trumped by the patriot act probably.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:53am

    Haha oh wow

    This is the level of trash you read?

    Damnit blue reading the comments makes you look like a damn genius.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 8:57am

    Re: Whatever happened to the Privacy Act of 1974?

    "unless expressly authorized by statute"

    Unfortunately.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    I feel so bad for whoever is unfortunate enough to hire you without knowing the depths of your obsession.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    akp (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:20am

    Re: I'm so happy I use a BlackBerry device!

    If you think they're not listening to those too, you're deluded.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    So you automatically censor posts without reading them? You're quite the world-class douchebag.

    Anyway, I'm curious: why is it ok for Verizon to have all of your call data but not the US government?

    And why is it ok that Google shares and sells every single thing you do online?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    Putting the whole lost notion of "doing the right thing," aside, if successful it could garner a lot of goodwill, and subsequently profits, from the public. Also you would get to continue to do business without having the government up your asshole in at least one manner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: I'm so happy I use a BlackBerry device!

    If you think they're not listening to those too, you're deluded.


    Yeah. We already know that RIM is letting the Indian government snoop. It's not any stretch to believe they have let the US snoop as well.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120803/04004219923/desperate-rim-gives-lets-indian-govt- spy-blackberry-communications.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    why is it ok for Verizon to have all of your call data but not the US government


    Umm, maybe because that call data is necessarily generated by and used to provide the service you are paying them to provide? This data is between you and Verizon. It's none of the government's business.

    And why is it ok that Google shares and sells every single thing you do online?


    It's not OK with me, which is why I don't use Google's services. But there's the key difference: I have the choice to avoid Google's spying. I don't have the choice to avoid the government's.

     

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  35.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 7th, 2013 @ 4:14pm

    Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    Holy SHIT, Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones must buy tinfoil by the truckload....

    When their Paranoid Schizophrenic powers combine, they summon Captain Crazy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re:

    "Your Honour, you must rule against the defendant in favour of my client because the defendant reads Techdirt!"

    ...I can actually see average_joe making this claim in court. It's pretty terrifying when someone is so sad to the point of impressively sad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 8th, 2013 @ 1:07am

    Re: Re: Who'e the bad guy?

    When the NSLs (national security letters) were first presented to the telcos, AT&T & Verizon dropped their pants and gave in to pressure from the Bush administration.

    Oddly enough, Qwest Communications did exactly what they were supposed to do. The CEO said NO, come back with a court order, not a letter from the President.

     

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  38.  
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    sdjffjskfj, Jun 8th, 2013 @ 6:50pm

    And they want you're money too. This whole thing started back in the 70's to create the secret court which serves as a sort of control for this spying program. Thanks you Rich Nixon. If the court didn't exist,we'd probably have more abuses than what we currently know about in Washington. And I'm sure more stuff is going on behind the scenes than anyone would clearly want to ever admit lest they lose their job/tarnish their reputation with Uncle Sam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    And when witches and satanists combine their powers, they summon your mama.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re: "whole claim that Verizon is compelled to obey is silly"

    Yawn...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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