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NSA Phone call database: It just gets better and better
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, May 11, 2006

Let's review:
In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.
Fair summary?

Now, the reality:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
So we have the NSA, under the direction of Gen Hayden, collecting and analyzing domestic phone records with the cooperation of the phone companies listed.

Legal or illegal?
Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, declined to discuss the agency's operations. "Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operational issues; therefore, we have no information to provide," he said. "However, it is important to note that NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."
Well that's the question. According to the administration, this is all legal:
"There is no domestic surveillance without court approval," said Dana Perino, deputy press secretary, referring to actual eavesdropping.

She added that all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government "are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists." All government-sponsored intelligence activities "are carefully reviewed and monitored," Perino said. She also noted that "all appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on the intelligence efforts of the United States."
So is this a "first?"
The government is collecting "external" data on domestic phone calls but is not intercepting "internals," a term for the actual content of the communication, according to a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the program. This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for "social network analysis," the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.
What about FISA?
Paul Butler, a former U.S. prosecutor who specialized in terrorism crimes, said FISA approval generally isn't necessary for government data-mining operations. "FISA does not prohibit the government from doing data mining," said Butler, now a partner with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.

The caveat, he said, is that "personal identifiers" — such as names, Social Security numbers and street addresses — can't be included as part of the search. "That requires an additional level of probable cause," he said.
The downside or danger of this sort of existing database?
The usefulness of the NSA's domestic phone-call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear. Also unclear is whether the database has been used for other purposes.
Of course that's always the danger anytime any government, to include this one, is left free to collect data on you.

Remaining legal questions?
The NSA's domestic program raises legal questions. Historically, AT&T and the regional phone companies have required law enforcement agencies to present a court order before they would even consider turning over a customer's calling data. Part of that owed to the personality of the old Bell Telephone System, out of which those companies grew.

Ma Bell's bedrock principle — protection of the customer — guided the company for decades, said Gene Kimmelman, senior public policy director of Consumers Union. "No court order, no customer information — period. That's how it was for decades," he said.

The concern for the customer was also based on law: Under Section 222 of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers' calling habits: whom a person calls, how often and what routes those calls take to reach their final destination. Inbound calls, as well as wireless calls, also are covered.

The financial penalties for violating Section 222, one of many privacy reinforcements that have been added to the law over the years, can be stiff. The Federal Communications Commission, the nation's top telecommunications regulatory agency, can levy fines of up to $130,000 per day per violation, with a cap of $1.325 million per violation. The FCC has no hard definition of "violation." In practice, that means a single "violation" could cover one customer or 1 million.
Hello, ACLU. Does anyone doubt this one is going to court?

And congressional oversight?
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would not confirm the existence of the program. In a statement, he said, "I can say generally, however, that our subcommittee has been fully briefed on all aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. ... I remain convinced that the program authorized by the president is lawful and absolutely necessary to protect this nation from future attacks."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., declined to comment.
Are you feeling all warm and fuzzy yet?

UPDATE: Sometimes I wonder. Listened in to Laura Ingraham for a short while. She spoke specifically about this subject and the segued into the "warrentless wiretapping" subject. She read a piece which pointed out that FDR ignored the law and okayed domestic monitoring of communication in an attempt to prevent spying and sabatoge. Law? Who needs it, right?

Having done that she immediately turned to immigration and wondered why we weren't vigorously enforcing existing immigration laws?

Heh ... the irony bell apparently never went off.
 
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"warm and fuzzy"?

Not so much.
 
Written By: Steven Taylor
URL: http://poliblogger.com
Give me a slippery slope argument and I might agree. But on its face, outrage over this program is misplaced. And taking the Administration to task for being disingenuous about what the NSA is doing? Are you kidding?

I can’t figure out who I’m getting more disgusted with; an Administration that skates up the line of legality so often that it’s become a pattern of behavior that is enormously disturbing to anyone who cares a whit about individual liberty and privacy, or...

Or the civil libertarian absolutists who criticize everything the Administration does to prevent al Qaeda from carrying out another attack.

Maybe I should just throw up my hands and join the mugwumps.
 
Written By: superhawk
URL: http://www.rightwingnuthouse.blogspot.com
So they weren’t even eavesdropping on calls. I really don’t see where the outrage is, particularly after being told again and again that the program was eavesdropping.

Seriously, I’m a big fan of limiting government powers, but I feel exactly the same about this (analyzing phone records to tease out social networks for intelligence purposes) as I did about Carnivore and Able Danger - It’s a good idea and we should’ve been doing it sooner.
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Or the civil libertarian absolutists who criticize everything the Administration does to prevent al Qaeda from carrying out another attack.
Is it too much to ask that the law be followed? And if it is unclear, is it to much to ask for quick action to clarify it? I mean if we really want to be a nation of laws.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Seriously, I’m a big fan of limiting government powers, but I feel exactly the same about this (analyzing phone records to tease out social networks for intelligence purposes) as I did about Carnivore and Able Danger - It’s a good idea and we should’ve been doing it sooner.
Great. Make sure it is legal then (and if it’s legal, fine). That way we protect the rights of individual citizens, which is the primary purpose of government.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
On the face of it, the government probably hasn’t done anything wrong. There is a lot of case law backing up the idea that the government can read external information (like the address information on letters, the routing information on network packets, or the end points of a phone call) without issuing a warrant so long as they don’t touch any internal information. External information is generally considered public and unprotected, internal information requires a warrant.

Whether the phone companies should just be turning this over is another matter of course. It is quite possible that while the government is legally allowed to play with this information, the phone companies aren’t legally allowed to just turn it over according to consumer protection laws. So the government may be in trouble by association.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
I certainly know who I’m most disgusted with. It’s those people who think just the word "terrorist" should make us cower under our blankets and beg for the good President and his ilk to save us by any means necessary. Just saying something is to prevent a terrorist attack doesn’t make it so. There’s plenty of evidence to show that these new powers are being used for much more than just that purpose.

Without the Constitution and its limits on government power, we are just another country waiting for its Caesar. What exactly is it we’re fighting for in that case? Survival? That seems a lot less noble than what we were told we’re fighting for.

For me, there are fates worse than death.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
There is a reason the checks and balances are there in our constitution. The constitution exists to protect the citizens of this country from exactly the type of blanket privacy violations that the governments of Stalin and Adolph Hitler produced.

Its not about terrorism its about using the fear of terrorism as an excuse to violate every Americans privacy without them having a choice in the matter. How many thousands died in wars to produce this countries freedom? In my opinion 3 thousand Americans deaths on 911 dont constitute the 400 steps backward this country has made in democracy over the past 5 years I cant imagine the shame that our forefathers would have felt if they saw what the Bush Administration was doing to this populations right’s.

Note: In Nazi Germany the police were allowed to arrest people on suspicion that they were about to do wrong. This gave the police huge powers. All local police units had to draw up a list of people in their locality who might be suspected of being "Enemies of the State". This list was given to the Gestapo - the Secret Police. The Gestapo had the power to do as it liked. Its leader - Reinhard Heydrich - was one of the most feared man in Nazi Germany. His immediate chief was Heinrich Himmler.

Does this sound like a familiar policy?
 
Written By: anon
URL: anon.com
Flouting Section 222, of course, is just a small piece of the action, which includes the White House’s repeated use of signing statements to announce its disregard of hundreds of other laws. Given world history, it’s not much of a surprise that sooner or later an American president would want to do this. What is very sad, however, is that there doesn’t seem to be much popular interest to do something about. This isn’t much of a surprise, however, coming from a populace who, when asked if they would vote to approve certain freedoms they are unaware are already accorded citizens in the Bill of Rights, say "of course not."
 
Written By: DanP
URL: http://
I think there are 2 seperate issues - analysis of call patterns and analysis of content of calls. The legal problem of the ’warrantless wiretaps’ is that calls originating from outside the US were (apparently) being intercepted and analyzed without warrants. The method, I think, was different than simply listening in on calls - possibly random (or partially directed?) sampling of data packets, using automated systems to analyze content. Too many ’calls’ to get warrants issued.

Legal or illegal / right or wrong ; I’ll speculate on technology and leave that other stuff up to other people.




 
Written By: Anon
URL: http://
Oops - now I’ll use the handle Anon-17; I made the technology comments.

Like I said, I’ll let other people comment on the right and wrong aspect of the thing.
 
Written By: Anon
URL: http://
So-called "data mining" of this nature is actually (in plain English) the creation of a "pen register" on the telephone activities of the targeted telephone, a search and seizure that routinely does require prior procurement of a judicial warrant by law enforcement agencies, based upon a showing of at least an articulable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. Pen register call patterns frequently then are used as the basis to follow up and procure full electronic surveillance search warrants to listen in on, and record, the content of future communications to and from the same targeted telephone(s).

President Bush, Attorney General Gonzales, General Hayden of NSA and others fond of the "unitary executive branch" theory of government brazenly claim that the entire warrant requirement can be dispensed with if the eavesdroppers claim they are acting for national security purposes. This is, of course, exactly what E Howard Hunt and the Watergate burglars were doing. It is precisely this evil (warrantless surveillance of domestic electronic communications "authorized" purely within the Executive branch) that the Supreme Court unequivocally condemned in its famous United States District Court ruling, and which Congress subsequently remedied by enacting the Foreign Intelligence Security Act and creating the special FISA court warrant system.

While the neo-con legal theorists babble on incessantly about the wartime intelligence gathering activities of Washington, Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR, we are all supposed to just ignore the far more recent Nixonian era history of civil liberties abuses that current federal law plainly criminalizes. It was hard enough to keep the civilian spooks of the CIA from running amok in the domestic political process. When you add to that a further barrier of accountability by having the Pentagon run the show, unleashing domestically all the high tech gadgetry NSA has developed over the years for legitimate surveillance of real enemies overseas, it’s not just the ACLU’s job to enforce the law. These are high crimes and misdemeanors.
 
Written By: william t. street
URL: http://
Maybe I’m one of those "wacky" libertarians, but I never gave permission for my phone records to be turned over and "mined" by the federal governement.
So they weren’t actually listening for "content" (at least that’s what they’d have us believe)- the point is who I call and who calls me is not, and should not, be considered the property of the snoops at Ft. Meade.
I also agree with the comments made by John- just because they say it’s to "stop the terrorists" doesn’t mean: 1. It will work and 2. It’s legal.
 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
"...who criticize everything the Administration does to prevent al Qaeda from carrying out another attack."

You think that people’s motivation for criticizing this administration is out of submission to terrorists? Wow.
 
Written By: Mark
URL: http://
People. Get overyourselves and your George Bush hating attitude. You know that if the terrorists had acted again after 9/11 and he hadn’t done all that he could to prevent it, you would be calling for his impeachment as well. Are you seriously going to compare our President to the regime of Hitler? Move to France if you hate our government so much you Socialist jerks.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
This seems to me like a gross violation of American civil liberties and the rule of law. On the other hand, I’m not sure anyone can do much about it. How does the average voter or even the average member of Congress have any meaningful influence over powerful intelligence agencies that by definition, work in secret?

In the 1960s and 1970s, under the Democratic administration of Lyndon Johnson and the Republican administration of Richard Nixon, the FBI especially engaged in MUCH worse violations of civil liberties than this. The agency’s notorious COINTELPRO program infiltrated and spied on peaceful protest groups — in the black power movement, civil rights movement, student movement and antiwar movement. Some FBI agents also seem to have acted as "agents provocateur" at this time, enticing political dissidents to engage in illegal activities so the dissidents would get jailed for them.

And there’s reason to think that in a few cases, especially involving the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, FBI and other undercover agents deliberately got some radicals killed.

Compared to what happened under the COINTELPRO program (look it up on Google!) this NSA eavesdropping seems like small potatoes. However, it’s worrisome as a hint of what could be yet to come.

Some obvious lessons for any would-be political radicals today: ASSUME someone is listening when you talk on the phone about politics; DON’T propose ANY stupid illegal activities that can get you arrested. Make sure you have witnesses around when you do anything dicey that someone might want to frame you for later. Cover your back, as the saying goes. And DON’T follow after some "super-radical, super militant" character who suggests that you blow up buildings or rob banks in the name of radical change. The chances are good that your "super-militant" is a government agent, and that the NSA and other agencies know all about your plans. That is, assuming your violent "super militant" is not simply a fool.
 
Written By: John Fernbach
URL: http://
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,

TAKEN FROM THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
 
Written By: MARK T.
URL: http://
Again, the posters on this topic seem to be ignoring inconvenient facts that might give the faux-outrage some context (throw cold water on it).

E C H E L O N. Ring any bells? GW Bush didn’t start it. Time to delve into recent history, rather than ignore it because it doesn’t fit the "illegal spying" meme (as if spying on the nation’s enemies is a crime).

Calling patterns are perfectly legal to monitor with or without warrants, since phone information like connection times, numbers and lines used are considered by courts to be public information. I could technically access it if I wanted to. The fact that the government has been keeping tabs on calling patterns between suspected numbers in locations of known terrorists or their accomplices is not illegal, unprecedented or dangerous. The failure to do this after what happened on 9-11 would be a criminally negligent lack of action on the part of the US government.

The end.
 
Written By: Good Lt
URL: http://www.aredphishhead.blogspot.com
"There’s plenty of evidence to show that these new powers are being used for much more than just that purpose."
John, this is not the Greenwald blog. Specious statements will not be accepted here without question. You offer no such evidence or links. The reason that the impeachers cannot get off the ground is that there is no such evidence - that is why they want to investigate! The proper term is "witch hunt".
Should the Bush Administration cooperate in a withch hunt? Not really. So is there a way to find out if our rights are being violated without the witch hunt? Not really. And there you have it.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Mark T

So a violent revolution is in order, huh? You leading the charge with that provision of the Declaration in one hand and a rifle in the other?

BTW - Why is what you are suggesting illegal according to another founding document called the Constitution (from which our actual laws are derived, rather than the high ideals [not legal framework] set forth in the Declaration)? Didn’t we fight a civil war already to resolve this issue?

Good luck. I’d rather work within the system to change it rather than throw it out the window to "start over." Just one annoying blogger’s take. :-)
 
Written By: Good Lt
URL: http://www.aredphishhead.blogspot.com
McQ writes:
Is it too much to ask that the law be followed?
Is it too much to ask that McQ provide us with some reason to think that the law ISN’T being followed?

Maybe it is, I dunno.
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
Besides the Barney Fife of terrorist (Zacarias Moussaoui), I would think the real ones would already be using not traceable communications (disposable anonymous prepaid cell phones) as well as non traceable financial payments. Deja vu, the NSA phone snooping is just like the airline security looking for guns and bombs when the terrorist knew they could carry box cutters.
 
Written By: Slolearner
URL: http://
It becomes too easy to abuse this data when gathered on such a large scale.

Granted the government might want to be aware of someone who makes calls to someone one who makes regular calls to a terrorist, and algorithmically its easiest to see couple-degree-of-separation connections if you analyze all call data.

But terrorist networks in the US are not so large that the government cannot bother to obtain a warrant for each link in the graph. If it can’t justify adding a person to a cluster of suspects, it probably shouldn’t.

I hire people from an anarchist commune to walk my dog, and don’t want "Associates with Anarchists" in addition to "Arrested at the 2004 RNC" to show up when a traffic cop runs my driver’s license. Or when I apply for a job.

A lot of law enforcement is left up to discretion. There are absurd laws on the books and we have to simply trust police not to enforce them. A cop can throw me in jail for biking without a bell if they want, and to keep that discretionary power in check we need to limit the information they have at their disposal.
 
Written By: Chris Wilson
URL: http://
TO GOODLT,
i DID NOT WRITE THIS DOCUMNET NOR SUGGESTED A "VIOLENT REVOLUTION" BUT CHANGE WITHIN OR FROM OUTSIDE SEEMS TO BE IN ORDER FROM A GOVERMENT THAT CONSTANTLY LIES TO ITS PEOPLE.
 
Written By: MARK T.
URL: http://
If it’s perfectly legal, why this?

"In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest’s lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA’s explanation did little to satisfy Qwest’s lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest’s suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general’s office. A second person confirmed this version of events."

Did I read this wrong or are they saying they don’t even believe Gonzales would sign off on it?
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Some folks here should remember that the NSA is not supposed to be involved in spying on Americans. They are, supposedly, a FOREIGN intelligence shop. From an interview with Russell Tice (http://www.reason.com/hod/js011306b.shtml):
REASON: How scrupulous is the general culture of the NSA about avoiding spying on Americans?

Tice: As a signals intelligence officer, kids who go right out of college and work for the NSA, this is drilled into you, especially when you’re young: You will not do this. This is number one of the NSA’s Ten Commandments: You will not spy on Americans.

 
Written By: farmgirl
URL: http://
Maybe I’m one of those "wacky" libertarians, but I never gave permission for my phone records to be turned over and "mined" by the federal governement.

You did when you broadcast the phone number to a third party (the phone company) to facilitate your communications. See Smith v Maryland 1979. Note this is different from the actual content of the communications, which is held to be private.

It is my further understanding that the mid 80’s EPCA made it so that law enforcement agencies had to get a warrant before using a pen register, but did nothing with respect to intelligence agencies.

So to also answer McQ, I believe it’s already legal.
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Calling patterns are perfectly legal to monitor with or without warrants, since phone information like connection times, numbers and lines used are considered by courts to be public information. I could technically access it if I wanted to.

Sure you could. You might need a subpoena, though. You keep any of those handy?

Otherwise, good luck getting someone’s phone records. And frankly, you shouldn’t have access to my phone records. It’s none of your damn business.
 
Written By: Pug
URL: http://
well thank God Bush didn’t lie about a blow job. Because that would REALLY be a danger to our Constitution, much more so than a president who thinks he can disregard any law he wishes.
 
Written By: renato
URL: http://
Already legal? Please. Let’s visit Section 222 of the 1934 Telecom Act, shall we?

(
c)(1) Privacy Requirements for Telecommunications Carriers. — Except as required by law or with the approval of the customer, a telecommunications carrier [...] shall only use, disclose, or permit access to individually identifiable customer proprietary network information in its provision of (A) the telelcommunications service from which such information is derived, or (B) services necessary to, or used in, the provision of such telecommunications service, including the publishing of directories.
According to the article, phone numbers are associated with the call data. Anyone, what to speak of the NSA, can find out names from phone numbers on the internet.

And last time I checked, "required by law" involves the presentation of a warrant. The president cannot write laws, much as he seems to think otherwise.

 
Written By: farmgirl
URL: http://
farmgirl re 1934 telecom act: see the 1979 Smith v Maryland decision viz a viz pen registers.

Here’s the summary:
The telephone company, at police request, installed at its central offices a pen register to record the numbers dialed from the telephone at petitioner’s home. Prior to his robbery trial, petitioner moved to suppress "all fruits derived from" the pen register. The Maryland trial court denied this motion, holding that the warrantless installation of the pen register did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Petitioner was convicted, and the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed.
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Already legal? Please. Let’s visit Section 222 of the 1934 Telecom Act, shall we?
As Jody pointed out (twice), Smith v Maryland 1979 postdates the 1934 Telecom act by 45 years. From the decision...
The installation and use of the pen register was not a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and hence no warrant was required. Pp. 739-746.

(a) Application of the Fourth Amendment depends on whether the person invoking its protection can claim a "legitimate expectation of privacy" that has been invaded by government action. This inquiry normally embraces two questions: first, whether the individual has exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy; and second, whether his expectation is one that society is prepared to recognize as "reasonable." Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 . Pp. 739-741.

(b) Petitioner in all probability entertained no actual expectation of privacy in the phone numbers he dialed, and even if he did, his expectation was not "legitimate." First, it is doubtful that telephone users in general have any expectation of privacy regarding the numbers they dial, since they typically know that they must convey phone numbers to the telephone company and that the company has facilities for recording this information and does in fact record it for various legitimate business purposes. And petitioner did not demonstrate an expectation of privacy merely by using his home phone rather than some other phone, since his conduct, although perhaps calculated to keep the contents of his conversation private, was not calculated to preserve the privacy of the number he dialed. Second, even if petitioner did harbor some subjective expectation of privacy, this expectation was not one that society is prepared to recognize as "reasonable." When petitioner voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the phone company and "exposed" that information to its equipment in the normal course of business, he assumed the risk that the company would reveal the information [442 U.S. 735, 736] to the police, cf. United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 . Pp. 741-746.
More hyperventilation, please.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
individually identifiable customer proprietary network information
Which this program apparently does not involve, since no customer names, addresses, etc. are provided.
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
You [gave permission] when you broadcast the phone number to a third party (the phone company) to facilitate your communications.
Really? Explain how to completely avoid a 3rd party — and thus maintain privacy — in a way other than "just go there" (which might be impractical depending on who the conversation is with) then.

 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
I love it how neither McQ (who I think is normally careful) and also no one else on the "King George, he thinks he’s King George" bandwagon have noticed the data base is anonymized such that individuals cannot be discerned or associated with phone numbers.

But really, its a mild case of BDS all in all.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

PS. and dangit, AS beat me to it!
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"Really? Explain how to completely avoid a 3rd party — and thus maintain privacy — in a way other than "just go there" (which might be impractical depending on who the conversation is with) then."

Install a private phone network, which is certainly legal for you to do.

Not practical, but legal.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Really? Explain how to completely avoid a 3rd party — and thus maintain privacy — in a way other than "just go there" (which might be impractical depending on who the conversation is with) then.
Why you think that keeping all of your communications a secret is and should be easy? Especially when using point-to-point communications?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
The constitution exists to protect the citizens of this country from exactly the type of blanket privacy violations that the governments of Stalin and Adolph Hitler produced.
Wow! That’s excellent foresight. But i guess it comes naturally to forefathers.

Seriously, i can’t believe Republican apologists for all these programs don’t seem to consider that the administration is not always going to be Republican... um, unless they know something i don’t...

And they point at Democratic transgressions for justification as in "well, Clinton did this" or in this case, "FDR did that", as if that makes it right, or even follows from the premise of the argument. If they really believe the stuff they say about liberals, they should be terrified of this sort of power being concentrated in the Executive branch.

When liberty is taken it’s very difficult getting it back. Precedents are being set, both legally and by default. What are conservatives going to do when a Democratic administration starts using all it’s power and information to track, say, gun enthusiasts and Constitutionalists, etc.? (Well, maybe poor examples, already.) But anyway i’m sure a Democratic president would be delighted with all these toys so what’s the plan? Complain to the ACLU?

Two more thoughts come immediately to mind:

1) Republicans are ostensibly for limited government. The irony is painful.

And,

2) For an IT kind of guy, i’m developing an unhealthy aversion to the word "database".
 
Written By: jb
URL: http://
"Really? Explain how to completely avoid a 3rd party — and thus maintain privacy — in a way other than "just go there" (which might be impractical depending on who the conversation is with) then."
Private networks. Dedicated phone line (you’ll need easements). Quantum entanglement. Carrier pigeon (I believe as long as the pigeon doesn’t stop to rest on someone else’s property, this will work). Note: walkie talkies and other wireless signals don’t count Constitutionally because you’re broadcasting. However, there are statutory limits.

There’s all sorts of things that can be done without involving a third party. But frequently using a third party is much easier. In fact, if using a third party wasn’t easier than just doing it yourself (which is what "impractical" is really getting at), the third party wouldn’t have much of a business model...
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
I love it how neither McQ (who I think is normally careful) and also no one else on the "King George, he thinks he’s King George" bandwagon have noticed the data base is anonymized such that individuals cannot be discerned or associated with phone numbers.
If the records are anonymized then what’s the point? What use do they actually get out of the data?

Install a private phone network, which is certainly legal for you to do.

Not practical, but legal.
Ok. Now, when you say private you REALLY mean private, right? Absolutely no one could listen in or trace anything, no outside party whatsoever would have access to even the slightest information without a warrant?

If so, then how much would one cost? How quickly could it be set up? You sound knowledgeable on that kind of thing, gimme a ballpark figure.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Random aside re Mark: point to point comm is easier to keep secret than point to multipoint. Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead and all that.
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Why you think that keeping all of your communications a secret is and should be easy? Especially when using point-to-point communications?
I think my communications should be none of the business of the government unless they have a warrant, that’s all. If we’d have to circumvent current carriers to keep it that way then I guess that’s what we’ll have to do.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Mark (and Jody) — Thank you for the information re Smith v. Maryland 1979. I see your point, even though I have some problems with this decision. (The 1934 Telecom Act was updated in 1996; quotes are from the as-updated law, so it has not been "superceded" in my opinion.)

The 1934/1996 Telecom Act says that CPNI is protected. The USSC said, in its 1979 decision, that the customer has no expectation of privacy in the information that it provided to a third party, REGARDLESS of the assurances that are provided in the Act. Should I therefore have no expectation of privacy in my medical records, because I have also provided that information to a third party, and have assurances that it cannot be shared without my permission? I don’t get the distinction; perhaps someone here has an explanation.

In response to A.S.’s comment:
"this program apparently does not involve [customer proprietary network information], since no customer names, addresses, etc. are provided"
...from the USA Today article:
Customers’ names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA’s domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.
 
Written By: farmgirl
URL: http://
If so, then how much would one cost? How quickly could it be set up? You sound knowledgeable on that kind of thing, gimme a ballpark figure.
Unless it’s a campus installation (corporate, university, whatever), the primary time and cost factors should be getting the appropriate easements.

Sans easements, it’s a function of the number of lines and the distance they have to cover. For a building, maybe a month to set up, a week if nothing needs to be torn down (drop ceilings or tile removable floors). Assume 5-50 k for labor (tearing up stuff should make a big difference) and maybe another 10k for equipment (VOIP routers run around 1000).
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
"If the records are anonymized then what’s the point? What use do they actually get out of the data?"

Patterns of calls. Although anonymized, call ’froms’ and ’tos’ may be broken down as ’home’, ’business’, or ’overseas to suspect number’—or some other matrix of categories they can pull data from. In that latter case, per the other program, they might actually listen to that call.

If in fact the data is anonymized (and never used to orginate a domestic criminal investigation), then I have no problems with it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information."

And that may well be illegal, but this article the BDS afflicted are hyperventilating over doesn’t even claim that is happening.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
what’s the big deal? American citizens have been wiretapped for the last 20 years. The US didn’t "spy" on them, cause they were not legally allowed. So they hired a Canadian company to do it for them, then they just buy the data from them. That is nice and legal.
But the bottom line is this....why are you worried? If you are not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about. It’s usually those people involved in illegal activities that raise the most fuss.
 
Written By: blog
URL: http://blog.com
So about 60k + easements would create a communication system that the government could not tap into without a warrant? That’s actually cheaper than I was expecting it to be. Too bad I don’t know anyone with that kind of money anyway.

If I were independantly wealthy I’d actually set that up. I’m not kidding.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
farm girl: difference one - there’s not neccessarily a third party when visiting a doctor.

However, I don’t believe that there is a controlling Supreme Court decision on the Constitutionality of the release of medical information to the government. (this ACLU site doesn’t cite any, though I’m a comm guy, not a medical guy).

As such, I believe any protections on medical records are statutory in nature, i.e., HIPAA and the Patriot Act. My interpretation of those (recall, I’m neither a medical person nor a lawyer) is that for national security purposes there’s no warrant or court order required. See this link pushing for changes in HIPAA which says:
[HIPAA] permits disclosure of medical information without limitations for the conduct of lawful intelligence, counter-intelligence and other national security activities authorized by the National Security Act. This permits the government to obtain databases full of medical records for data mining purposes with no subpoena or court order.
A little side note based on where I think this thread will head next, the defense of Rush was based on the Florida Constitution, not the US Constitution. See here.
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Too bad I don’t know anyone with that kind of money anyway.
Ask Scott Adams, he apparently has at least $75 K lying around to spend on blog-inspired ideas. (link)
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
No one seems to have responded to Davebo’s post. I’m interested to hear a reasoned response...

If it’s perfectly legal, why this?

"In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest’s lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA’s explanation did little to satisfy Qwest’s lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest’s suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general’s office. A second person confirmed this version of events."

Did I read this wrong or are they saying they don’t even believe Gonzales would sign off on it?
 
Written By: jackifus
URL: http://
Re jackifus:

Theories (i.e., I don’t know): 1) AG is law enforcement. NSA is intelligence. Getting the AG involved could be construed as a law enforcement agency making the request which changes the rules (though I think AG makes FISA requests and can authorize such stuff via a letter)...

2) Reduced publicity

3) It is nonetheless illegal for reasons I don’t know.

4) The NSA person was a poo-poo head. (I.e., had no good reason and was either being territorial or dumb for whatever reason)

5) This may not have been FISA appropriate (I think FISA courts require specific individuals to be named and is typically used for searches, neither criteria being met here)

6) The two anonymous individuals cited are just wrong in their version of events.

7) Because of the tasty pie filling!!! (not really this site’s thing, but I felt like adding it)
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Tom Perkins writes:
"But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information."

And that may well be illegal, but this article the BDS afflicted are hyperventilating over doesn’t even claim that is happening.
Exactly. I guess the argument is: a different program, that does other things than are alleged here, and that there is no evidence actually exists, might be illegal. Classic strawman.

Now, if McQ or farmgirl or someone could point me to evidence that THIS program - the one described in the USAT article and not some other imagined program - violates some law, I’ll pay attention.
 
Written By: A.S.
URL: http://
Good Lt.,

Echelon? I guess I wasn’t paying attention - again. Its like my high school physics teacher said, ’You’re always a day late and a dollar short’.

Able Danger detected the 9-11 cell, though, right? But it didn’t prevent the event (scenario was known to be high probablility) from happening ... because ... ’Gorelick wall?’ & nobody called the FAA and said, hey, we need air marshals & cockpit door locks ...

Help me understand
 
Written By: Anon
URL: http://
Arg - won’t let me change my handle to Anon-17. That was me again.

~ Anon-17
 
Written By: Anon
URL: http://
For G*d’s sake, A.S., if they’re collecting phone numbers, which can be cross-referenced, that qualifies as individually identifiable information, which the phone companies are prohibited by statute from sharing "except as provided by law or with the approval of the customer." (I know, Smith v Maryland, but shouldn’t a company’s privacy policy count for something?)

You’re awfully complacent on the topic of whether or not the NSA (or anyone else, for that matter — the NSA does share records with other orgs) is cross-referencing the phone numbers. I don’t need to have documented evidence that this is happening (let’s remember, the story is less than a day old) before becoming concerned about the possibility. It’s a logical progression, and given the demonstrated track record of this administration, I don’t trust them farther than I could throw them.

As for strawmen? Give me a break. The NSA are not supposed to be involved in domestic surveillance. Every objection could flow from that point alone.
 
Written By: farmgirl
URL: http://
I tentatively conclude that based on known info, this program violates the the Stored Communications Act.. Orin Kerr’s parsing:
It’s not clear to me that the SCA applies: the SCA was designed to deal with one-time disclosure of stored communications and records, not real-time collection and repeated disclosure. At the same time, the statute doesn’t have an explicit exception for real time collection, so it’s at least plausible that it does apply. If it applies, disclosure is permitted only if an exception to the statute covers this. I don’t think that any of the exceptions apply, though: the emergency exception of 18 U.S.C. 2702(c)(4) seens to be the closest, but this doesn’t sound like there was an "immediate danger" here. This was an ongoing program, not a program responding to a sudden emergency.
It’s more clear to me than to Kerr that the SCA applies, but I wouldn’t be willing to insist on it yet; he’s thinking different statutes have been violated and there are many to choose from. This really is all pretty complicated, and it is going to take a few days for lawyers all over the Internet to plow through all the possibly applicable stattues.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
There’s an article on Smash the Man (http://www.smashtheman.com/) that hints that this might be tied into recent mergers and acquisitions - in other words, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
 
Written By: Todd Biba
URL: http://www.smashtheman.com
(1) Did I read this wrong or are they saying they don’t even believe Gonzales would sign off on it?

The article says that Qwest said "to hell with it" to the feds sometime in 2004. AG AG may not’ve been AG by then.

(2) The notion that my phone number doesn’t identify me is hilarious. You can do a reverse phone-number lookup on the internet, free of charge. That argument is right up there with "he didn’t say ’Valerie Plame,’ he said ’Joe Wilson’s wife.’"
 
Written By: Anderson
URL: http://andersonblog.blogspot.com
This President (or his aides) has little concern or respect for the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans. I DO care if data as to my every phone call and to what person is being mined and archived. Neither am I assuaged to learn that FDR monitored certain communications during WWII. Such comments suggest this is merely yet another pr problem that the conservative pundits hope to pound thru our thick collective skulls.

What I most care about is the deceit and subterfuge that this administration has carried out almost as if their proudest policies.

I think the bi-partisan outrage over this latest incident is both jusitifed and reflective of the incremental frustration many feel over the continual misadventures of this aministration. History will not be nearly as kind when everything is added up and accounted for.
 
Written By: Bob T
URL: http://
I tend to agree with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas who said, "One of the reasons the administration doesn’t tell more members of Congress about such programs is because Congress leaks." Exactly right, and I advocate that the executive cut the Congress out of the loop altogether. Really the Congress is just for show anyway, call it democratic window-dressing on the emperor’s palace.

And to you, the citizen I say, you have nothing to fear from your government unless you are doing something wrong. Have you made phone-calls to terrorists? Have you ordered Zanku Chicken to go? Have you called a pharmacy in Canada? Have you phoned a full-release masseuse? Have you dialed a registered Democrat? Have you called your newspaper? If you’ve answered "no" to all these questions then just relax already.

So why is the government tracking your calls if you’re an honest proletarian? Well it’s a little complicated. It’s all a matter of contrast. See, the terrorists are the subjects, and you are the background. So if we only monitor the terrorists, the picture we paint is like a polar-bear in a snow-storm, you just can’t see him. That’s where you come in. You are the background that must be viewed to bring the terrorist in to sharp relief.

So don’t worry. Qwest communications should worry. Those traitors have refused to comply with the decrees from Washington. Perhaps Osama Bin-Laden will do an ad for them, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the new business.
 
Written By: Fritz
URL: http://www.gopuberalles.com
Random aside re Mark: point to point comm is easier to keep secret than point to multipoint. Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead and all that.
Well, yeah, I can keep a secret that I share with nobody else. Fair enough, though; I wasn’t very clear.

What I really meant was that even if you encrypt your information, it’s almost always possible to know that you delivered some kind of information to someone else as long as you deliver it to them.

You’ll note that one of the favorite methods of terrorists to communicate with each other is to post messages on a bulletin board/chat room. That tends to hide which individuals are interested in your specific message(s) as well as not indicating the intended recipient.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I HIGHLY recommend everyone take a good thirty minutes and go read Heather MacDonald’s mammoth 2004 piece in City Journal that discusses how virtually EVERY technological initiative meant to assist investigators collect and analyze data over the past 10 or so years has been relentlessly attacked by "privacy" groups whose modus operandi is to distort, fabricate and hyperventilate over any and all attempts to operate an intelligence gathering apparatus.

A few quotes:

"Privacy advocates say that giving the government access to data held by commercial third parties violates constitutional privacy rights. They are wrong. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that the government may obtain business and other records held by third parties without warrant or probable cause, because those records are no longer private. Law enforcement officials may subpoena records, or request that they be provided voluntarily, or may simply purchase data repositories on the market like any other player in the digital economy."

...

"The "privacy community," as they like to call themselves, will have none of this. They claim that looking for patterns of suspicious behavior before having any particular suspect in mind is unconstitutional. In conventional police work, they say, the government starts from a known suspect or actual crime... This latter technique, the ACLU and other civil libertarians say, makes government investigations potentially limitless. "Pattern-matching investigates everyone," complains Priscilla Regan, a government professor at George Mason University...

"But pattern analysis, as distinct from "particularized suspicion," has always been integral to crime fighting. Experienced FBI agents and police officers often try to predict future events—the site of the next bank robbery, say—by analyzing previous crimes and figuring out the crooks’ modus operandi. New York engineered the greatest crime drop in its history by using its Compstat computer system to spot crime patterns. What a cop on the beat may observe as suspicious—furtively walking back and forth in front of a jewelry store—is based on generalizations from previous heists... But the situation is no different when the behavior in question is "observed" in a database: whether to investigate the individual further rests on the usual standard-of-proof question that all law enforcement officers face, as K. A. Taipale has argued.

"... By their reasoning, in fact, police departments should not send extra officers to high-crime neighborhoods, for that would be to deploy them on the basis of patterns and predictions, not "individualized suspicion," and most of the people they would observe would be innocent. Finally, having your data instantaneously scanned by a computer is not tantamount to being "surveilled." Assuming that the entries were not flagged for further human investigation, no one has "investigated" you. The computer has no idea what those zeros and ones represent. In fact, computer searching of data protects privacy more than a Sam Spade–style hand search through title deeds, say, or hotel registries, which does in fact sentiently peruse records of the innocent as well as the guilty."

"It’s okay for Home Depot to buy my digitized credit-card receipts, says the privacy "community," to see whether I would be a soft touch for a riding mower. But if government agents want to see who has purchased explosive-level quantities of fertilizer, they should go store to store, checking credit-card receipts. Data-mining opponents would deny terror investigators a technology in common use in the commercial sector, simply because they think government should be kept inefficient to limit its power, a Luddite’s approach to public policy. Remember: data mining would only speed government access to records to which it is already legally entitled. When a technology offers possibly huge public benefits, the rational answer to the fear of its abuse is to use technology to build in safeguards.
 
Written By: The_Guvnah
URL: http://
I tentatively conclude that based on known info, this program violates the the Stored Communications Act..
The linked document talks about content not routing information.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Well since everybody’s in a nice tizzy over the subject, why not read this then? (That’s out of print; this isn’t and contains the three key stories as well as some others.)
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It’s okay for Home Depot to buy my digitized credit-card receipts, says the privacy "community," to see whether I would be a soft touch for a riding mower. *snip*
Dunno about others in this "community", but I would personally say no to that too.

The point should be simple: if you want info about a private citizen, you’d better explain why. Private companies should have to inform you if they release anything regardless of who it is going to, and the government should have a warrant, period.

If phone service providers can be rolled for info without a warrant, then one might as well say that they’re just an unofficial arm of the government. I see no reason to accept that.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
I appreciate your questioning of this program given these new realities. Even if we don’t agree, you have proven yourself capable of at least not robotically agreeing with everything this government does.
 
Written By: dday
URL: http://d-day.blogspot.com
Mark Flacy writes:
The linked document talks about content not routing information.
My link doesn’t even seem to work, so let me try again. You must scroll down; the sub-section is capotioned
§ 2702. Voluntary disclosure of customer communications or records
and is here.

The relevant provisions are at the bottom. I just saw over at Reason that Jacob Sullum also believes this law has been broken.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Updating my theories above via info from Mona:

8) Maybe the NSA could use the records only if they were given voluntarily and maybe the phone companies could only give the records as long as the records themselves were "anonymous" thereby not divulging consumer information...

Hmmm... I think this one is currently my favorite explanation for the davebo question...
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
"Really the Congress is just for show anyway"

Yeah, and the constitution is just a piece of paper.

No need to read this any further.
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Damn! I’ve been Dougj’d!
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
If phone service providers can be rolled for info without a warrant, then one might as well say that they’re just an unofficial arm of the government. I see no reason to accept that.
I think this quote underscores a big misconception. Some apparently believe that any "info" about them is somehow protected by an interest in privacy, and therefore, the government cannot get its hands on that information without a warrant.

This is simply wrong.



 
Written By: The_Guvnah
URL: http://
Then explain the difference for us. What information is there that the government cannot by any means obtain without a warrant? What information do they have free reign on? And why?

If they’re going to adopt that tactic, I want to see a list. They can’t be allowed to just make it up as they go, that makes it too difficult to check them.
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
B-Psycho,

They can’t, insofar as I understand federal rules of evidence, use any "intelligence" acquired without a warrant to prosecute any citizen of the US taken on US soil, and here’s what you’re not getting. Addresses on envelopes have always been fair game (so by a very reasonable extension, so are internet packet addresses and orginating and ending phone numbers—what is said is constitutionally priveleged).

Those are the same rules that have been in effect for a long time, no new rules by this administration.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp



 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
If so, then what’s the point of the NSA program at all? The way you describe it, if the program isn’t illegal it is redundant.

 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Tom Perkins: you responded to this:
"But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.
With this;
And that may well be illegal, but this article the BDS afflicted are hyperventilating over doesn’t even claim that is happening.
Are you that naive? Why do you believe they aren’t doing reverse-lookups? The whole purpose claimed by NSA for collecting phone numbers and detecting "anonymized" calling patterns is so the NSA can find out who made those calls — and to whom. And to do that the data has to be capable of uniquely identifying individuals. To pretend otherwise is utter foolishness.

More foolish still is your total reliance on their claims of the innocuous of their activities, especially when we have many reasons to doubt them. So when they claim it’s aboveboard and all nice-nice, then that’s good enough for you, eh?

This whole thing is more of the same pattern of this administration’s ignoring basic American liberties and law, while lying about it all the while.

You must be of that 31% who still hasn’t figured out what’s up.

And you, Fritz, with this kind of crap..
And to you, the citizen I say, you have nothing to fear from your government unless you are doing something wrong.
..are a witless sheep who bleats "Shear me! Shear me! Oh, please!" You are the perfect citizen any dictator could wish for. You want to be victimized. You deserve to live the rest of your life in fear under an iron fist.

Farmgirl and Anderson, you got it right. These NSA creeps didn’t run it by any sort of legal or judicial review because they *knew* it was illegal and they were desperate to avoid any sort judicial review on it. It would be the beginning of the end when it comes to Bush’s clandistine law-breaking activities.

Judicial review of this law-breaking and liberty-suppressing activity will eventually happen. And the ironic and terrible thing is, efforts against the real terrorists will become wasted because any convictions based upon this un-American and illegal crap will be thrown out.

- No due process
- use of torture
- unreasonable search without any warrant
A case made of evidence obtained by legally weak methods is a weak case. And a case made by these illegal, unconstitutional and immoral methods is not a case at all. We will lose many of our hard-won basic rights, and the terrorists will walk.

The terrorists never did, nor could, damage our liberties, these core principles that made this country free and great. It took the policies and lawless actions of George Bush to do that.

George Bush is America’s worst enemy against terrorism, and his policies will prove to be the greatest supporters of terrorism.

Nothing could help real terrorists more than basing their convicitions on legally dubious arguments or on illegally obtained evidence.

And you fools of the 31% are as culpable for enabling Bush to do just that.
 
Written By: Bobby Binzer
URL: http://
Sorry, Fritz, I totally missed the satire of your snark. My sincere apologies, and kudos for the perfect-pitch wingnut rant.

It’s deeply disturbing, actually. So much of what’s posted in earnest here aligns so closely in intent with what you posted in jest, that the line between satire by hyperbole and the positions of certain people defending this NSA spying and this administration become, at first read, almost indistinguishable. And for me, when over-the-top satire is almost too close to the real thing, then something’s very very wrong with the real thing.

I think your little sketch outlines the underlying desire of that 31% very well. They’re all sheep begging to be sheared, again and again.
 
Written By: Bobby Binzer
URL: http://
B-Psycho,

It can’t be redundant unless someone else is doing it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Ain’t no thang Bobby. We are living in a time of self-parody.

[=C :/
 
Written By: Fritz
URL: http://www.gopuberalles.com
It is always nice to have one’s views ratified by an expert. It seems this program of collecting records of Americans’ telephone calls sans warrant or subpoena does, indeed, violate The Stored Communications Act: read here.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
The relevant provisions are at the bottom. I just saw over at Reason that Jacob Sullum also believes this law has been broken.
Perhaps, but it looks like you can draw a different conclusion.

This actually funny, in several dimensions.

Section 2703(c)(1) says...
A governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications) only when the governmental entity—
[...](E) seeks information under paragraph (2).
(The elided portion appears to be a set of "or" conditions to me.)

Section 2703(c)(2) says...
(2) A provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service shall disclose to a governmental entity the—
(A) name;
(B) address;
(C) local and long distance telephone connection records, or records of session times and durations;
(D) length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;
(E) telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and
(F) means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number),
of a subscriber to or customer of such service when the governmental entity uses an administrative subpoena authorized by a Federal or State statute or a Federal or State grand jury or trial subpoena or any means available under paragraph (1).
It certainly looks to me as if paragraphs one and two authorize each other.

My favorite, of course, was Section 2702(c)(6) which appears to state:
(c) Exceptions for Disclosure of Customer Records.— A provider described in subsection (a) may divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications covered by subsection (a)(1) or (a)(2))—
[...](6) to any person other than a governmental entity.
Well, I now know how I’m going to pay for my retirement....

Now is it illegal for me to nicely ask the phone companies that information and then sell it back to the Feds? Or much more likely, buy that information from the phone companies and sell it to the Feds?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Can anyone here give me a reasonable explaination why the governments insists on knowing, at risk of financial penalty or jail time, my entire financial life, and this is not an invasion of privacy. Y’all complain about casual conversations but then give them a complete pass when it comes to your finances. Seems to me thats bass ackwards. I wish you would fight just as hard to keep the government out of my finances as you do keeping them off my phone. Oh thats right, and I’m looking at all these suspiciously new names* here, because you think you, through the government, can do so much more good than I can, with my money. Which seems to me is another invasion of my privacy.

*Apologies to those who actually do come to this site regularly and comment even less than I do.
 
Written By: Wilky
URL: http://
I dunno who you’re talking about, but in case you mean me, I’ve actually been here a relatively long time & for awhile commented regularly. Stopped for over a year, just stumbled across it again through another site.

I’m anti-government across the board, hard. Sh*t, McQ & them would easily consider me an extremist...
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Seems to me that if the government was serious about stopping terrrorists, rather than merely concentrating on what phone calls they might be making, maybe the government ought to be gathering information about who might be buying weapons?

After all, a terrorist with a gun in his hands is a lot more dangerous than a terrorist with just a cell phone.

The 2nd Amendment doesn’t say anything about preventing the government from keeping information about who has guns, it just says you have "the right to bear arms."

TH
 
Written By: Tom Herling
URL: http://
Hey b-psycho, you were one of ones the * was directed to. Just seems like a higher than normal "drive-by" comments, many which will never to be seen again.

Tom, there was no weapons used in 9/11, except maybe a kitchen knife, maybe we should start tracking those that buy kitchen utensils to, huh.

In the grand scheme of things, between tracking my calls to the in-laws in Venezuela or demanding the knowledge of my finances, I’d rather have the former. Its not that I’m happy with either, but damn, in a lot of cities they can track you driving thru the it. Or in my state, they can look in my car and pull me over for not using a seat belt. These a just a few examples where we have been deprived our privacy, designed to get you. And yet we complain about a program designed to connect the members of a group that wants to kill you. Go figure.

And I won’t hold my breath waiting for a reasonable answer as to why the government insistence of complete knowledge of my finances is not a violation of my privacy. Also designed to take from you.
 
Written By: Wilky
URL: http://
Bobby Binzer — Thanks for the shoutout! I must request, however, that you check your facts ... Tom Perkins must be of that 29% who still hasn’t figured out what’s up. Heh.
 
Written By: farmgirl
URL: http://
a terrorist with a gun in his hands is a lot more dangerous than a terrorist with just a cell phone.
Not in Iraq he ain’t...

I distinctly recall reports about the IEDs over there, many of them being small plastic explosives with a wire from a cellphone ran through em. They’d detonate it by calling the number attached to the phone.

 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Hello, my name is Max. visit following sites
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Written By: Max
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