Verizon Says It Has A First Amendment Right To Illegally Give Your Call Records To The Government

from the that's-an-interesting-way-to-look-at-things dept

The nation's biggest telcos are working hard to make the lawsuits against them for passing customer call records and other info to the government as part of its program of warrantless wiretaps disappear. AT&T's argument that it was just following government orders didn't wash with a judge, and now Verizon is claiming that its passing of information to the government is protected by the First Amendment. Yes, you read that correctly: it says the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is unconstitutional, and the information it passed to the government -- in apparent violation of it, and to comply with the sort of warrantless surveillance the ECPA was designed to prevent -- is constitutionally protected free speech. This seems tenuous at best, but it fits with Verizon's MO. The company always tries to whitewash its customer data leaks by filing lawsuits and trying to shift the blame onto pretexters and information brokers, and making the problem appear to be solely these people's activities, rather than its own inability to protect customer data. Likewise in this case, it contends that it's done nothing wrong, and that the ECPA makes the mistake of trying to prevent free speech, rather than putting restrictions on the government's ability to ask for the information. Of course, those restrictions exist (in the form of having to get a warrant), but didn't really work so well here. Verizon's complicity seems pretty obvious and its free-speech claims look like little more than a hail-mary attempt to shirk liability for disclosing the customer information. That may not be necessary, though, if the Bush administration's attempts to get Congress to pass a law giving the telcos immunity from these sorts of lawsuits are successful.

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  1. identicon
    Rick Clinch, 7 May 2007 @ 8:39pm

    Adults

    So, reading all of these posts I have come to a couple of conclusions. Most of you are probably adults. And I would say that a good portion of you are also politically motivated to hate the current administration. I am 16 and a Junior in high school.
    I read a lot of zealots who ignore their humanity to stand by some principle that they have devoted themselves to. Anyone, socialist or democrat (in the governing sense not party), who can't be human enough to bend, to see the grey in life is as dangerous in my book as the defective humans among us who seek to do harm. It just takes longer for their bad effects to be felt, but in the end more people are harmed. From what I can tell, and I sure don't know everyrthing, from my observation of adults on the news and in my town is that we have a lot of jealousy out there. People can say what they want, but I think I understand why one of the ten commandments is thou shall not covet. Greed and jealousy seem to be the root of a lot of our problems in society. Someone works hard and becomes rich and others call them names and look to take away their money. Someone is happy living a peaceful life, eating and wearing what they want and they are called names and cast out.

    Adults need to see that the world is not black and white! There is enough grey in every situation that there should be an answer to every solution. If it requires force, then so be it. I know people that can only think of one thing and not let it go. When that obsession leads them to try to destroy other countries, cultures, people, etc. Good people need to stop them at all cost. But we should also remember that if we just talk once in a while those scenarios will become just as rare as other bad things that happen (Columbine, VT, 9/11, etc.) I think though, that too many people have conversations in tense situations, with one goal in mind. What's in it for themselves? What will they be able to gain by talking to this other party?

    PETA, Greenpeace, Anti Smoking, Anti Abortion, Al Gore, Spanish Inquisition, even the U.S. at times are all examples of groups, people and countries looking to gain something that might not be in the best interest of everyone. Some things on the surface look like a good thing, but then it is the greed of individuals that kicks in a ruins the good in the actions. The treatment of the indians in the US was terrible, and to make up for it we have screwed everything up so bad that it can never be right. The fact that the indians can live outside the law, and still be US citizens it an absolute joke, casinos should be taxed like any other business, no matter who runs them. The fact that anyone can still be a Catholic after what the church did in the dark ages is crazy talk. But then athiests get so zealous in their actions that nobody can take them seriously. Shut up and believe what you want to believe. I would even say it is ok to offer to share your belief, but don't put me down and belittle me if I choose not to believe the same way you do.

    You adults have really screwed things up for the rest of us, and unfortunately most of the people my age will probably just slip right into the open slots in your groups to take up the charge. Thanks for very little.

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