Hear That Deafening Silence From AT&T And Verizon About NSA Surveillance?

from the yup,-thought-so dept

As the various details have come out about the NSA leaks, many people are focused on PRISM, but it’s pretty clear that the really big revelation so far was in how the telcos — Verizon and AT&T being the big ones — have continued to cooperate closely with the government, more or less handing over all their data to the NSA. That had already been alleged years ago, by AT&T technician Mark Klein, but many in the public and the press had ignored that until the leaks last week revealed the FISA Court’s order to Verizon, demanding all records. Declan McCullagh, over at News.com, is pointing out a key point: while the tech companies have loudly denied handing over tons of data to the feds, notice that AT&T and Verizon have remained silent.

The Internet companies have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to lift secrecy restrictions on 702 orders so they can clear their name, in part by disclosing how many records they have turned over in response to legal process. Google sent an open letter to Holder yesterday, and Facebook and Microsoft have also asked the Justice Department for permission to divulge summary statistics. Holder has not responded.

By contrast, AT&T never asked for permission to disclose NSA surveillance. Instead, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Carl Nichols said during a 2006 court hearing in San Francisco that a discussion of all the “facts” about NSA surveillance could only happen in a classified setting. The Bush administration asked that the case be tossed out on “state secrets” grounds.

Neither did Verizon, which has secretly turned over daily logs of all customers’ phone calls to the NSA, according to a court order that the Guardian published last week. When USA Today disclosed in 2006 that NSA was vacuuming up phone logs, Verizon didn’t deny it. Instead, a spokesman told the newspaper only that “we do not comment on national security matters.”

Now, perhaps it’s reasonable to question whether or not the statements from the internet companies are completely accurate, but they’ve been increasingly specific in their denials. On the flip side, the telcos haven’t issued any denials at all, and, given the evidence that Klein presented seven years ago, you can see why they might not have grounds to issue a denial. The remaining silence, however, speaks volumes.

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Companies: at&t, verizon

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Comments on “Hear That Deafening Silence From AT&T And Verizon About NSA Surveillance?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Oooh, softball! -- Hear Mike ranting about Google's surveillance?

Please remove this idiot’s account and blacklist him permanently. He’s annoying little insect and should be crushed out of existence just like any other cockroach.

Awesome. Another hypocritical Techdirtbag standing up for free speech. And you wonder why people laugh……

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Oooh, softball! -- Hear Mike ranting about Google's surveillance?

Freedom of speech means you are free to go and create you own blog and attract your own community. It doe not guarantee permission to post on on blogs owned by anybody else; that is a privilege that the owner of the blog is free to withdraw. Nor is Freedom of speech a right to disrupt other peoples conversations.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oooh, softball! -- Hear Mike ranting about Google's surveillance?

I agree with ZP. Even if blue is utterly annoying and nonsensical, I don’t want him banned or blacklisted. If you don’t like reading what he writes, then skip over it, or don’t click open his stuff when it gets hidden.

Even though blue has no inherent right to post on someone else’s blog, you have no inherent right not to be offended by what someone writes on someone else’s blog.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Oooh, softball! -- Hear Mike ranting about Google's surveillance?

I’m not sure if you realise this but Mike doesn’t let these people post their rants here at will because of his laudable commitment to upholding the Bill of Rights.

No, sir.

He lets them post their rants here to DEMONSTRATE that all they have by way of arguments in favor of their positions are ad hominem attacks, circular reasoning, FUD, spam, and shilling.

“Selling copies of my creative output is the only way available to me to make a living from my work, therefore our current IPR laws are justified. Here are links to prove the veracity of my claims,” said no maximalist ever.

As these trolls prove over and over and over again, all they’ve got is the same tired old authoritarian B.S. to trot out over and over again ad nauseam. Meanwhile, whether we agree with Mike et al or not, he does at least provide evidence to back up the statements he makes.

They can’t, or won’t even bother to properly evaluate the articles here, they just crap all over them like pigeons with diarrhea. But all they do is prove that Mike’s position is the more reasonable one.

Anonymous Coward says:

i suspect one reason the telcos are keeping quiet is they dont want to upset the relationship they have with the NSA and others. that could easily be one of the reasons why there are so few telcos and so few broadband companies. if the boat is rocked, perhaps the number of other companies (and there should be many more, so there is at least a bit of competition, unlike how it is atm, thanks to all the ridiculous laws that were brought in to stifle competition!) would actually increase, removing the monopolies that exist!

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Incentives

The telcos want to maintain their strength. What they’ve done is essentially ensure their own demise by going against what the public wants. AT&T and Verizon have immunity from the government. But they need government approval of mergers that could make them larger. So they want to protect from that.

So they have the public that’s angry at them while the government would actually punish them if they decide to talk about this issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Phone Logs? What About Internet logs?

What also hasn’t been discussed is whether these large ISPs are handing over internet log details.

Imagine if the NSA was collecting every IP address you’ve ever visited, every non-encrypted HTTP header request your browser has ever made? Every port/protocol your computer has ever used to communicate on. The “metadata” of internet usage is nothing short of crazy-useful for spying on people.

Mosaic User says:

"World War Money"

Voltaire’s words held true in the US right up until the late 50s, early 60s. After that we dropped teaching any useful or relevant social science classes. Civics and American History seemed to have disappeared from our Elementary and Secondary schools.
Our parents,”the Greatest Generation”, came back from WW2, claiming “you can hate the Nazi’s, but you have to defend their right to speak”. Now their children’s sole obsession appears to be amassing invisible money.
While Echelon scooped relevant business information out of the airways, few Americans knew, or complained because we all benefited from the success of American companies. Now, there are few “American” companies operating on a large scale. All the old, comfortable names are now multinationals, who spend more time hiding wealth from the national body politic than lifting the national cause. Prism surveillance attacks the individual liberties where it is deployed, because the individual is now the common economic target.
Think not? World wide protests are not currently being raised by foreign corporate competitors, but by individuals concerned about their freedom from corporate control, enforced with government sanctions.
The suppression of an individual’s economic freedom trumps the regulation of Corporate fiefdoms, simply because the ‘dream money” that flows across spreadsheets around the world doesn’t exist. There is no $700 Trillion dollars to fulfill the existing derivatives obligations, and without a distant hope to pin fulfillment on, the system will collapse on itself. ONLY if money continues to flow from the employees/consumers in an international market can the falsehood of a stable monetary system continue.

World War Money…. it’s stupid. No one can possibly win. Too much money is like too much law. At some point it loses meaning.

Malor (profile) says:

They have to lie....

Remember, Mike, they legally must lie if they say anything at all, so they’re remaining silent.

Silence speaks volumes no more than speech does. You can’t trust anything that anyone is saying, because if they don’t lie about the existence of classified programs, they can be put in jail for a long, long time.

You’re still in the mode of thinking that people are telling you basically the truth when they stand up on those podiums (podia?), but they can’t. They just can’t.

Methuzla says:

Not just wire and wave


From the beginning of that, it occurred to me that it solves a technical problem – how might one digitise voice comms in order to record them efficiently & analyse the resulting intel, if one happened to be in intelligence.

Instead of agencies needing a vast computer set-up to do that, it would seem a great wheeze to get the customers to digitize their conversations themselves.

But of course you would have to convince everyone that the system was impenetrably encrypted, and keep repeating that until it became obviously accepted common knowledge.

And you’d need an established outfit to head up the effort. One that was already friendly & lacking in moral sense. Then perhaps you could even arrange to give the system away for nothing, to speed up adoption.

One assumes the financial sectors in non-US countries may already have been aware of possible espionage (possibly from earlier “how the Hell did they get to know that beforehand” internal inquiries) otherwise individual favoured players in the US would have mopped up the entire world by now (if at all competent).

As it is, the snooper’s own goal is that now no tech sector type in his right mind is ever going to trust North Americans again. Unless they are already inside, that is.

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