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
    Dawn N McKenzie, 15 Jun 2010 @ 9:57pm

    Verizon Illegal Wiretapping - Highly Opine

    I would appreciate if Techdirt will help me get truth out about Verizon, whom I affectionately call Va Lie Zon. I have been in a 3 year battle with these Fraudsters (of course in my opinion) and it has been a pure nightmare. They have blackballed me from employment, stole my mail, followed me on the highway, like it is Jim Crow in the 21st Century, mail Fraud and have aligned with certain Government entities to cover it all up and ruin me and my family in the process. I can hear them clicking in my phone. This case needs public exposure. A manager told me, when they want to get you they will. Another manager told this guy, after he alleges he was set up, and threatened to sue, the manager told him go ahead, you will never as Verizon has all the money and best attorneys, you will only waste your time and money. They think they are above the Law and can ruin lives for sport. Twitter ddiamond61

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