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Secret Court Upholds Phone Data Collection

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the resisting-is-hard dept.

The Courts 174

cold fjord writes "The Houston Chronicle reports, 'A newly declassified opinion from the government's secret surveillance court says no company that has received an order to turn over bulk telephone records has challenged the directive. The opinion by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Claire Eagan, made public Tuesday, spells out her reasons for reauthorizing the phone records collection "of specified telephone service providers" for three months. ... 'Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so.'" Relatedly, the UN Human Rights Council is discussing the surveillance situation.

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No Surprise (5, Insightful)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about a year ago | (#44883401)

Why would a 'for profit' corporation go out of its way to protect the rights of consumers that don't even know they're having their privacy invaded to start with?

USA needs to get rid of the secret courts.

Re:No Surprise (5, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | about a year ago | (#44883473)

As an American, I am way less worried about foreigners hurting me than my government hurting me, either directly, indirectly by restricting people I'd like to do business with, or by simply confiscating part of my income as taxes to do silly things.

The check on a democratically-elected government to stop them from doing silly things is for the people to find out about it and vote the fuckers out. But we can't do this if we're not allowed to know...

Re:No Surprise (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44883679)

But we can't do this if we're not allowed to know...

Then you must always assume the worse. And vote out any politician that won't change the law... for what the that's worth. Try to consciously to use your voting power before crying that you don't have any.

Re:No Surprise (4, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44883723)

Too bad both sides subscribe to liking secret courts.

Re:No Surprise (4, Insightful)

danbert8 (1024253) | about a year ago | (#44883769)

Gee, if only there were more than two candidates running for any particular office... Oh wait, you wouldn't vote 3rd party because they don't have a chance right? That's just what they want you to think so they can maintain their power.

Re:No Surprise (4, Insightful)

Kookus (653170) | about a year ago | (#44883879)

Either that or it's because the 3rd party is bat$4:^ crazy as well.

Re:No Surprise (5, Insightful)

AJH16 (940784) | about a year ago | (#44884005)

I realize this and still vote that way. Why? Because it will put fear of the people back in the main parties. Large scale abuse of power can only occur when people who are going to do the abusing are comfortable with their power. If they realize that they will lose the power if they abuse it too much, they don't abuse it. Showing politicians that we would prefer batshit crazy to abusively corrupt, it forces them back to the table.

Re:No Surprise (4, Insightful)

AJH16 (940784) | about a year ago | (#44884027)

Put another way, honestly the best thing that someone like Ron Paul can do is get like 30 or 40% of the vote and make the parties that are made up of people that aren't fanatical to a fault realize that they need to change if they want to hold on to power. That way, you avoid the crazy people in power but still get the change that is needed. This was the realization that made me switch to voting third party. Winning doesn't matter, showing the amount of loss does.

Re:No Surprise (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44884923)

The last 3rd party candidate to do that was Roosevelt. The only person in my lifetime to get anywhere near that was Ross Perot. And even he wasn't able to crack 20% of the popular vote.

Re:No Surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884117)

Of course you think so because both parties use the propaganda machine to convince you of that. People like you who say this are tools of the machine. You can make the argument that all parties are crazy, you need to get of your a$$ and figure out who is and who isn't. Stop reading the papers and CNN. Tool.

Re:No Surprise (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884201)

As long as one of the bat shit crazy things they do is make it easier for third parties to get in (and thus easier for themselves to get reelected), I find it a perfectly acceptable tradeoff to have the country run by someone completely insane for only 4 years. Are you sure that someone bat shit crazy would even be significantly worse than the current two parties?

Re:No Surprise (3, Interesting)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year ago | (#44884323)

So if they won't win, you don't have to worry about them getting elected :) and you still get to send a FUCK YOU to the main parties... If enough people start voting for the crazies, then maybe the main parties will change their ways to woo you back.

Re:No Surprise (0)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44884937)

That's how we wound up with President Bush. The vote wouldn't have been close enough for SCrOTUmS to steal from Gore had people not been voting for Nader.

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884831)

Either that or it's because the 3rd party is bat$4:^ crazy as well.

As an exercise, try imagining established federal law as if it's being proposed for the first time.
"Let's tax everyone who works so we can pay farmers to not work, so we'll have less food."
"It should be our job to attack every small country with WMDs, but build the world's biggest arsenal for ourselves."
"Prohibit everyone from buying cheap medicine unless an exclusive guild of physicians gives it the OK."

Re:No Surprise (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about a year ago | (#44884231)

We also need to get rid of the team mentality and eliminate the practice of forcing registered voters to pick a team and only be allowed to vote in their teams primary elections. Why should I be forced to align myself to a single party and then be restricted from voting for other candidates during primaries? Wouldn't it make more sense if I could vote as I see fit? What If I like both a certain Republican candidate and a certain Democrat candidate? I can choose my favorites for both primaries and in the final round let them duke it out and I will vote for my favorite. Or am I missing something?

Re:No Surprise (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about a year ago | (#44884643)

You don't have to affiliate with a single party if you don't want to, and it sure sounds like you don't want to. Many people, including myself, are registered independent (unaffiliated) voters. Changing your party affiliation in the US is as simple as filling out a voter registration form and selecting "no party" in the box that asks for your party enrollment/designation.

Re:No Surprise (2)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#44884243)

It isn't just that the 3rd party doesn't have a realistic chance. The problem is that voting for a 3rd party acts as a spoiler for the major party you most agree with. Casting a vote for a liberal 3rd party candidate is in reality casting 1/2 vote for the conservative main candidate - probably the person you LEAST want to win. Remember Bush vs Gore (+ Nader). Do you think the Nader voters got the result they wanted?

Yes, its a prisoner's dilemma, if everyone suddenly decided that 3rd party candidates were viable it might work, but that isn't going to happen.

Also, as another poster mentioned, many of the 3rd party candidates are completely nuts.

Re:No Surprise (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44884299)

When one party is 99% evil, and the other party is 98% evil, the "spoiler effect" doesn't matter much. The only vote that actually matters is a protest vote.

Re:No Surprise (1)

nickersonm (1646933) | about a year ago | (#44884523)

You have to be willing to accept near-term losses in order to get long-term gains. Spoiling the 'less evil' party of your opinion may cause them to shift toward your preferred politics.

Re:No Surprise (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884713)

This is sooo obscenely naive and short-sighted. We will NEVER escape from the two-party stranglehold with thinking like this. Spoiling an election (or even a couple of them) would be totally worth breaking the duopoly in the long term. Anyone who tells you otherwise is making two obvious mistakes:

1) They are blinded to the overwhelming similarities between the two major parties. Yes, there are differences on some very philosophically significant issues, but when it comes to the actual running of the country, you'll realize those "big" differences amount to a small fraction of actual decisions made. You then see that they drastically overestimate the difference achieved by switching to a govt dominated by the other party.

2) They underestimate the inertia of our massive government organization. Billions of dollars and millions of participants require extraordinary vision, planning and execution to pull off sweeping changes even in a system that lacks checks and balances. In our system of checks and balances, dramatic changes can take decades and/or massive cultural/technological change to back them up. Those who fear "so-and-so will ruin our country" dramatically underestimate what it takes to do so.

Both our current problems and our current strengths are unlikely to be dramatically altered in just a term or two of the "wrong guy in office". So stop trying to optimize short-term gains and starting voting for some long-term restructuring of the system.

There is no way in hell that two parties with so much in common can serve as anything remotely representative of our geographically and demographically complex nation. WE DESPERATELY NEED A SYSTEM OF POLITICS WITH HIGHER RESOLUTION. I'm thinking, probably, no political parties with more than 15-20% support and plenty of viable ones in the 5-10% range, requiring coalitions on legislation and executive candidates. Of course, it would also be fantastic to restore the House of Representatives to its proper ratio to the population. Locking it at around ~430 has proven disastrous and made them very non-representative.

Re:No Surprise (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about a year ago | (#44884971)

No, his explanation of the reality of the situation is not naive. Naive is thinking you can just wish that reality away.

Re:No Surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884281)

That's just what they want you to think so they can maintain their power.

No, it is a well-established natural effect of plurality voting. Baseless accusations of conspiracy like this are helping to condition the public to reject accusations of conspiracy about which they should be very concerned. It is true that the founding fathers were not well-versed in game theory, and it is also true that our current government does many things to maintain power, but conflating the two problems just makes them all worse.

Re:No Surprise (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44883791)

Too bad you ignore the other candidates on the ballot because you feel safer trying to stay in the middle of the herd.

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883779)

Surely you can see the problems with your approach. If not, let me count them out for you:

1. My vote is statistically insignificant.
2. With rare exception it is a two party system. So even when 1 isn't true, it's true.
3. It's really only a one party system.
4. Since the bad, beholden politicians outnumber the good ones by a wide margin, by "throwing the bums out" you're making it easier to replace the good with the bad, not the other way around.

Re:No Surprise (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44883841)

Well, I guess your only option is to give up then, but leave your pitchfork in the closet, and assume the position.

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883825)

I did this. I voted out the Republicans in 2008. The Change I got wasn't the change I wanted.

Re:No Surprise (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44883863)

You voted in a democrat, obviously you really didn't want any change at all.

Re:No Surprise (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44884895)

In many cases the other guy is even worse than the incumbent. Granted this is a huge issue, but it's hardly the only issue. The same Libertarians that are usually standing up to this stuff are also the same Libertarians that are for abolishing various workers' rights and generally deregulating things.

That's your typical alternative.

Bottom line is that until the states take away the right of the parties to handle their own nominations and the right of the ruling party to draw the districting lines, this isn't likely to change. To date 48 out of 50 states still permit the ruling party to draw the districting lines. A top 2 primary combined with that tends to push the parties closer together to the point that they can actually talk.

Or just vote the GOP out of office as they're the ones that started this and they're the ones that refuse to compromise on anything. It's not like they're a viable party at this point anyways, they only have seats because of gerrymandering.

Re:No Surprise (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44885095)

They have seats because they won the vote. Gerrymandering doesn't force people to vote one way or the other. Listen, all your excuses are nothing but hand waving and passing of blame. In other words, it's bullshit. This is what the herding instinct looks like. All of human 'reasoning' is subservient to it.

Not how majorities work (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year ago | (#44883707)

The check on a democratically-elected government to stop them from doing silly things is for the people to find out about it and vote the fuckers out.

Nice idea. But democracies specialize in creating majorities with different (divergent) interests, and thus no consensus on any single issue, which means that (a) issues fights are perpetual and (b) there's less actual oversight of government.

Re:Not how majorities work (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#44883989)

The check on a democratically-elected government to stop them from doing silly things is for the people to find out about it and vote the fuckers out.

Nice idea. But democracies specialize in creating majorities with different (divergent) interests, and thus no consensus on any single issue, which means that (a) issues fights are perpetual and (b) there's less actual oversight of government.

On the other hand, when pluralities are fighting it out, there's less opportunity for a government to ram through extreme measures. You have to form a coalition first.

Re:No Surprise (5, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about a year ago | (#44884333)

As an American, I am way less worried about foreigners hurting me than my government hurting me, either directly, indirectly by restricting people I'd like to do business with, or by simply confiscating part of my income as taxes to do silly things.

This is something I wish more Americans would remember. Our founding fathers didn't fear terrorism. They feared tyranny.

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885067)

Thomas Jefferson would likely take refuge in Russia today. :P

Police state - call for sanctions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884661)

It looks like it is time for Zimbabwe to call for sanctions on the US police state. Obama is making Mugabe look really good.

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884663)

So... you're claiming that our votes matter?

Unless by "our" you refer to the ultra-wealthy and corporations, this is demonstrably, factually not true. Screw the "oughts", "shoulds", "in theorys" and "I thinks", you have to deal with what is actually, really happening or else you are, by definition, insane.

Re:No Surprise (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | about a year ago | (#44884863)

This now seems absolutely critical to the national defense, since the GOPTP has decided to ally itself with Al Qieda in a combined effort to bring down the US government and economy.

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883629)

No Surprise that the government justified what the government is doing.

The separation of powers is lost and there is no fear in elected representative's eyes.

Re:No Surprise (2)

green is the enemy (3021751) | about a year ago | (#44883751)

I'm wondering who benefits the most from the existence of these secret courts, secret surveillance programs and never-ending war on terror. Is the answer really as simple as "certain well-connected corporations?" I'm curious to know more details about the structure of the real government of the US (not the puppets in office).

Re:No Surprise (1)

ZecretZquirrel (610310) | about a year ago | (#44884179)

Why would a 'for profit' corporation go out of its way to protect the rights of consumers that don't even know they're having their privacy invaded to start with?

Especially with the tacit agreement "we'll just keep this between us, right?" to prevent any competitive disadvantage. Until Lord Snowden began his journey...

Re:No Surprise (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44884291)

Me, myself and I all met and agreed what we're doing is just fine.

Re:No Surprise (1)

wonkavader (605434) | about a year ago | (#44884301)

Why would a 'for profit' corporation go out of its way to not do something the goverment which it can charge for?

I suspect if the goverment didn't pay for this data, we'd see a bunch of lawsuits to "protect the rights of consumers."

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884621)

Also, why would a corporation not provide a service to the NSA that the NSA is PAYING them for??!!! These companies are compensated for each record they fork over to the NSA. I've seen Cox Communications price list myself :

http://ww2.cox.com/business/lasvegas/support/billing-and-account/article.cox?articleId=efc02550-6795-11e0-4e73-000000000000

Yeah, I'm sure Cox is screaming "oh think of the children you Orwellian bastards!" each time the NSA asks for data. Yeah I'm sure...

Re:No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884847)

A "for profit" organisation would do it in order to be banned from government expenditure for all eternity as a revenge tactic.

It would not be sustainable in the current monetary system though.

Why? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883419)

Is the U.S. in a constant state of emergency? If so, why?

"Orwellian" is an overused term, but it applies here. The state in 1984 has extraordinary powers because it's in a constant war/state of emergency.

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883565)

We've been under a constant state of emergency [wikipedia.org] since 1995. That's almost 20 years. This is shameful.

Re:Why? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44884155)

While I understand that the US has a major panic problem, those seem to be trade embargoes pushed through on the premise of an emergency, and not the kinds of states of emergency that are causing us problems here and now.

Re:Why? (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44883717)

I agree on both the overuse of "Orwellian" and the appropriateness here. I think we can safely say Godwin's Law is pretty much invalidated at this point as well when discussing the federal government.

not surprising. (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#44883425)

when faced with the option of complying with federal law or challenging it, im willing to guess most major corporations that butter their bread with federal dollars would be reluctant to question so much as the color of the stamp on the envelope in which the request was delivered.

Well, duh (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#44883427)

My experience with telephone companies tells me that their only response upon receiving such an order would be to figure out how to pass along double the costs of it to me and if it ever became public tell me it was an upgrade.

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883685)

My understanding is that in this particular case the government (NSA) was covering their expenses, hence the lack of the usual bitching or consumer overcharging on the teleco's part.

Re:Well, duh (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#44883745)

Verizon will still think of a way to lower my data cap and raise the price and blame it on the NSA and/or terrorists.

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884425)

That or claim it is a Government mandated fee.

No Surprise (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883431)

We are cattle. When they want us for dinner they will come calling.

Our government is so far out of hand that I don't recognize it anymore.

Re:No Surprise (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#44883573)

Our government is so far out of hand that I don't recognize it anymoo.

FTFY

Re:No Surprise (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44883737)

GP was posted anonymoos

Re:No Surprise (5, Funny)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44883845)

We are all an anonymoos cow herd.

Re:No Surprise (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year ago | (#44883867)

Anonymoos Coward, no less.

Re:No Surprise (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883663)

We are cattle. When they want us for dinner they will come calling.

Our government is so far out of hand that I don't recognize it anymore.

I don't know what you are talking about you Liberal! I AM FREE!

I still got my big screen TV, cable with the Sports package, RED MEAT, Bible and my guns! And the fact that, if I actually TRIED to use my guns against the government, they'd decree me a terrorist, thereby allowing them to act without any protestations from the rest of the populace; send a bunch of DOJ troops; and stomp me and my buddies out like a little ant, doesn't mean that I COULDN'T fight oppression!

USA! USA! USA! USA!

Yahoo (5, Insightful)

arbiterxero (952505) | about a year ago | (#44883469)

So is the Secret Court lying, or is Yahoo's Marissa, google, lavabit and a handful of other companies that supposedly challenged their compliance lying?

because someone is, and my guess is the people that are running the 'secret' courts are lying.

Re:Yahoo (4, Interesting)

ebrandsberg (75344) | about a year ago | (#44883543)

Phone records. I don't think Yahoo or Google is a phone company in the sense AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile are. As others have pointed out, there is no reason for them to challenge these orders, as they a) get paid for the costs of complying (from what I understand), b) the orders themselves are classified, so no real risk (until now) of people knowing what is going on and c) it would cost them money to challenge. The entire system is stacked against privacy.

Re:Yahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883763)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Voice

http://messenger.yahoo.com/features/sms/

Re:Yahoo (4, Insightful)

thoromyr (673646) | about a year ago | (#44883567)

I differ. The secret court does not have clear reason to have lied: this information comes from revelation of secret court documents, not a PR statement itself.

OTOH, Yahoo, Google, etc., all have a vested interest in lying to the public in order to assert some damage control. The statements from these individuals were definitively PR and, as such, can reasonably be expected to put as much spin as necessary to put them in the best possible light. I'm not saying they were bad for doing so (though I'm not saying they weren't...), that is a function of their *job*.

As others have noted, why would they contest it? Anyone who gets federal monies is susceptible to federal manipulation. Look at the so-called "Higher Education Opportunities Act" which uses the threat of witholding federal funding to exert control over universities. Or the use of federal funds to require a speed limit on interstates.

Re:Yahoo (2)

thoromyr (673646) | about a year ago | (#44883659)

You got me: I was too quick to respond. The secret court documents were (according to the summary) about bulk telephone records. Those guys were already granted immunity and it is well known that they cooperated fully. Oh, except for Qwest I think. Which simply never complied and did not contest through the mechanism. So the court records match up with other known facts.

Yahoo, Google, etc., do not hold telephone records. Well, I suppose google might after google voice, but those calls would be routed through an actual telecoms at some point and the telecoms records would have been provided per above without any need to involve google. The business with yahoo, google, etc., are their provision of email records to the government.

As to their contesting it? Maybe they did, but it is hard to argue with federal monies, or the potential of them (google has been trying to get in on lucrative government bid jobs in competition with microsoft). I would not be surprised if their claims of contestation were never supported by facts.

Re:Yahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884901)

Government and corporations are required to be lying sociopaths.

The people are not allowed to lie.

Captcha: cocaine

The threat of investigation (5, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year ago | (#44883519)

Here's the deal:

Either you go along with our investigation, and hand over all your data on everyone, or we investigate you.

We'll come in, confiscate a few vital servers, demand all your documents, interview all your staff.

This will shut down your business and cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more, but that's not our concern.

So which do you want -- rat out your customers, or get shut down?

Sincerely,
The Government

Re:The threat of investigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884583)

Lavabit's response had to make them shit their pants for a moment. Just the gobsmacked realization that someone might call that bluff must've brought them a moment's pause. Why so scary? Because, if every company did it, they'd be blamed for fucking the economy over royally.

Remember, maintaining the bread and circuses is vital to their continued operation. Once the veil is lifted, it's game over.

Americans prefer safety to freedom (2)

ehack (115197) | about a year ago | (#44883535)

If none of the tech-savvy phone corps objected to turning over bulk data, when the process gave them that opportunity, one can conclude that Americans are mostly happy to the surveillance, probably because it gives them an illusion of safety.

I have a tip for our sheepish friends: Appoint a dictator, totalitarian regimes are much better at policing than democracies.

Re:Americans prefer safety to freedom (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44883753)

Appoint a dictator...

I'm sure we already have one, passing orders to the elected officials, who the people reelect because they also do what they are told. Who is this 'dictator'? The TeeVee!

Re:Americans prefer safety to freedom (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883843)

American's "appointed leaders" prefer the illusion of security over freedom.

FTFY

Re:Americans prefer safety to freedom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884343)

That claim is completely false. American's prefer freedom over safety.

Mr. Obama likes to claim otherwise, but his polls are heavily manipulated (as most political polls are). They use tricky wording, to provide the desired results. But, if you look at Youtube, and even some of the responss to CNN and here on Slashdot, and simply count the Likes/Dislikes of which ANYBODY can respond, then you will clearly see how the population truely feels.

Do not concern yourselves, comrades. (2)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#44883549)

Wow. That statement sounds like something that could have been written by the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union back in the 1970s.

Re:Do not concern yourselves, comrades. (2)

MRe_nl (306212) | about a year ago | (#44883923)

"The opinion by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Lavrenty Beria, made public Tuesday, spells out his reasons for reauthorizing the phone records collection "of specified telephone service providers" for three months. ... "Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so."

Supreme Court of the Soviet Union, 1938.

Yep, that statement doesn't just "sound" Stalinist.

And ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883583)

And the Public court might decide that if we don't have privacy rights, then neither does Judge Claire Eagan.

It's sad to say, but American is currently one of the biggest threats to privacy and security in the world, because they're undermining both for their own ends.

And increasingly, the rest of the world is losing interest in having that happen. This is going to create a lasting backlash against the US and US companies as being a bunch of self-entitled assholes.

I'm waiting for some countries to declare these people criminals and issue warrants in absentia like they did for some of those CIA people doing illegal grabs.

Can You Blame Them? (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#44883603)

I know it is popular to blame the phone companies here, but don't forget what the government did to Qwest. [eff.org] The CEO of Qwest stood up to the government and said "NO." They put him in prison for insider trading because he sold shares months before the government canceled classified contracts in retaliation.

Re:Can You Blame Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883881)

So you're saying that if a CEO POs the government, they will actually enforce the law against that CEO and give him more than a slap on the wrist/cost of business penalty.

Re:Can You Blame Them? (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about a year ago | (#44884139)

Hopefully someone in wallstreet stands up to the .... someone.

Re:Can You Blame Them? (1, Flamebait)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about a year ago | (#44884263)

Yes, and that is exactly the problem. The government has so many laws on the books that they can choose one to punish a CEO with one of those laws arbitrarily. Do you think he is the only telecom CEO who has broken laws? Why do they enforce laws against him, and not others?

In addition, knowing that standing up to the government will leads to cancellation of govt contracts means those other companies have a fiduciary responsbility to their shareholders to keep those contracts in place. They have no such responsibilty to protect their customers privacy.

Re:Can You Blame Them? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884269)

And he is a hero for standing up to that. And let that be a lesson to everybody, that it's still not okay to just go along with government illegal activity, but instead one must remember they are a bunch of gangsters, that are violating the law, all in the NAME of the law.

They play their games, and we play ours. If government does not stand behind the law, then they do not have the weight of law, and we the people have no obligation to it either.

It also says that Congress was informed (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883641)

It also says that FISA court believed that Congress has been told about the programs, when they voted to renew it. However we learn that this is not true. Congress members were kept in the dark by Mike Rogers (Michigan's rep).

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130917/14032124558/fisa-court-pretends-congress-actually-was-told-details-bulk-surveillance-even-though-it-wasnt.shtml

FISA court thought one thing, and NSA's stooge Mike Rogers of Michigan decided Congress should be kept in the dark and vote based on lies. So the court voted to uphold it.

Curious how secrecy can be leveraged into laws by these creeps. The Telco's are not the ones being spied on, so they're not the 'protagonist' in any lawsuit. Worse they make a good profit from the NSA, so they're more like NSA contractors, paid to spy on Americans. Hardly likely to complain!

Re:It also says that Congress was informed (1)

JigJag (2046772) | about a year ago | (#44884669)

MOD PARENT UP, even if it's from AC. Very informative

Re:It also says that Congress was informed (4, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44885125)

The Telco's are not the ones being spied on, so they're not the 'protagonist' in any lawsuit.

That's the first thing I thought the court meant. That since nobody who was being secretly spied upon protested, the secret spying could continue. Of course, if someone who was being secretly spied upon DID protest, they would first have to prove standing - that they were secretly being spied upon - without having access to any classified materials which proved they were being spied upon... An impossible task which ensures that nobody can challenge the law.

The sad reality... (2)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about a year ago | (#44883801)

The sad reality is that you should assume that any electronic communication you make - any electronic transaction you're a part of - is at least ~able~ to be read by the NSA if not actively being seen.

Now, from a practical standpoint, chances are that unless you're being explicitly targeted by federal agencies or law enforcement, no human being is actively looking at YOUR records.. but they ~could~.

However, it chills me to the bone that our government has and uses that power and the potential for abuse is massive... I really do feel that our government has seriously crossed the line... and we the people ~let it happen~... hell, a large number of us (I was not one of them, but I use "us" collectively) screamed to congress in September 2001 "DO SOMETHING" and they did.

The only way this can stop is if the American people decide that the level of surveillance and eavesdropping is unacceptable and demand that it stop. We need to elect lawmakers that value our privacy and freedom and we need to vote out those who would trade our essential liberties for security theater.

We did this to ourselves, and we are the only ones who can stop it... by speaking loud and strong that we DO NOT WANT.

Re:The sad reality... (2)

FridayBob (619244) | about a year ago | (#44884953)

Agree. I would even go so far as to say that 9/11 may actually have been a conspiracy... by the Bush administration to ignore Richard A. Clarke and others who were sounding the alarm before that fateful day, precisely so as to end up where we are now.

The question is how to turn this situation around. In theory this is possible simply by electing honest people to represent us in the federal government, but the root of the problem is that 95% of the time the candidate with the most money is the one that gets elected. So, without money a candidate can almost always forget winning an election.

Where do successful candidates get most of their money from? Not from thousands of small donations. They get it in large chunks from a much smaller group of donors -- super-rich folks and corporations who, thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling in 2010 on Citizens United vs. the FEC, can now donate as much as they want. But of course there are always strings attached to such donations, which is why the entire Federal government basically don't work for us anymore: they now work almost exclusively for their donors. Both of the main parties are guilty of this. Later, after leaving office, most of them simply move on to become lobbyists and usually end up earning about 15x as much as they did before. This practice is so bad that Congress has been referred to by insiders as "a farming operation for K Street."

The most promising solution for reform that I've heard of so far is to start by getting money out of politics. Obviously we can never trust Congress to do that, but the U.S. Constitution actually offers a solution in the form of an Article V Convention [wikipedia.org] . This provision allows state legislatures to band together and bypass Congress in order to alter the Constitution. It does require a 75% majority for approval, which is a daunting task, but the idea would be pass a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to end corporate personhood and publicly finance all elections.

The organization behind this plan? Wolf-PAC [wikipedia.org] .

Is that the corp's job? (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44883965)

I'm confused.

Were the corporations expected to challenge this? Is that how the system works?

I thought the courts enforced the law, by disallowing blatantly illegal procedures.

Does this mean that anything not specifically challenged is OK?

Re:Is that the corp's job? (4, Insightful)

Cassini2 (956052) | about a year ago | (#44884253)

In America (and Canada, Britain, and Australia) the law is based on an adversarial legal process. If everyone is friends, then this process doesn't really work. Theoretically, the government isn't supposed to be friends with anyone. The founding father's never trusted government, and hence they built in safeguards to protect the country from tyranny. Today's situation where the government is closely linked to large corporations is a new and different form of tyranny. Unfortunately, this was not invisaged when the founding father's wrote the constitution, and hence the courts are not set up to deal with it.

Re:Is that the corp's job? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44885069)

Yes, they were supposed to challenge this.

However, challenging it is treason. http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/09/12/228239/yahoo-ceo-says-it-would-be-treason-to-decline-to-cooperate-with-the-nsa

Therefore, since nobody challenged it, it is just fine to do.

(This ends our lesson in Secret Court Logic. Any resemblance to Real World Logic is completely accidental and will be fixed immediately.)

Secret Court? What's next Secret Police? (1)

mrnick (108356) | about a year ago | (#44883967)

Civil liberties? What's that?

"I am above the law!"

Re:Secret Court? What's next Secret Police? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44884097)

Secret police? We've had one of those for decades, called the FBI.

Re:Secret Court? What's next Secret Police? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884371)

No, they're not a secret. But Obama's Army is a secret, yet people still know about it. He claims it's not an Army but a police force, but what kind of police force dresses up in army gear, carries around automatic rifles, drives luxuries anti-zombie hummers with missile launchers at the top, and tells people that they will take their guns away if the president says so? Sadly they are more brainwashed than the libtards that voted for him.

Government lawyers... (2)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44884049)

They work for the government, not the people, even when they pretend that they're "judges". The FISA court is not a court of law, it is an unconstitutional rubber-stamp that only exists to allow criminals to pretend to themselves that they're not violating their oath.

A "secret cout" is very clearly prohibited by the bill of rights.

-jcr

Not Recognized (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884235)

We do not recognize the authority of any secret court. The United States is a country of laws, of truth and Justice. Until a bonifid court rules on the subject, no decision was made.

Oh, well if a *secret* court says it... (2)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year ago | (#44884239)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel so much better about my government violating my 4th amendment rights six ways from sunday as long as the phone companies aren't challenging it, as told by a secret court.

Whew!

Except for Joseph Nacchio of Qwest (5, Informative)

jfischersupercollid (99938) | about a year ago | (#44884337)

Except for Joseph Nacchio of Qwest, who openly defied the NSA in 2002, and demanded a court order. He was then prosecuted for "insider trading" for selling some stock just before the US government pulled all Qwest's contracts as revenge for helping to expose the program of illegal surveillance. Nacchio was a hero, and no one even noticed. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [usatoday.com]

Courts and judges (2)

jodido (1052890) | about a year ago | (#44884485)

The courts and judges are part of the same system as the NSA and the president and the congress, whose political goal is the defense of capitalism. When their core interests are threatened there are no laws that can keep them from doing whatever they think they need to do to stay in power. The courts will put a "legal" seal of approval on it. As Malcolm X so insightfully pointed out many years ago--you can't rely on any part of the government to protect your rights. Not Congress, not the White House, not the courts. No matter which party whose purpose is defense of capitalism holds whichever office.

no shit (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#44884505)

nobody fights it because everyone who has gets shut down by the government. lavabit anyone?

Challange? (1)

steamraven (2428480) | about a year ago | (#44884617)

What are these mysterious "statutory mechanisms" for challenging an order by a secret court that is required to be kept secret?

The companies are being payed well to do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884729)

The telephone companies are being payed well to allow the government to spy on everyone. Do you think they would want a few bucks from you for service, or a few bucks from you and many bucks from the government for each line? They cant help themselves.

"Explicit mechanism" (1)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#44884731)

How explicit was it that a challenge could be issued? If a company receives a notice with "CONFIDENTIAL" and "OBEY" splattered all over it from the "comply or we fuck you up" secret overlords of Room 101, are they really going to look that closely at the boilerplate section printed in 6pt text and containing "there is an avenue of challenge to this, but we wouldn't advise you even think about it"?

And how does "no one has objected (because if they did, we'd hit them in their bottom line), therefore it is legal" even compute?

Precedent? (1)

Libertarian_Geek (691416) | about a year ago | (#44884997)

Does this mean that one may use this precedent as a defense when one publishes the campaign damaging phone records of the politically elite? If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, then why not?

Treason? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44885029)

Let's suppose for a second that Yahoo's CEO was telling the truth when she said that refusing to comply with the NSA was treason [slashdot.org] . Now suppose you run an ISP (or any other business for that matter) and you are approached by the NSA. Chances are they aren't going to ask politely whether they can spy on your network/customers. Instead, they'll order you to comply with threats of treason, expensive lawsuits, having your business shut down, etc. if you don't immediately fall in line. Anyone who pushes back after the threats could find the NSA making business (and life) hard for them until they comply. This is an organization that used their database to spy on their own girlfriends [slashdot.org] , do you really think harassing a business that is being "troublesome" would raise any ethical quandaries with them?.

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