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EFF Sues AT&T Over NSA Wiretapping

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the getting-caught-in-the-wrong-bed dept.

Privacy 746

Omega1045 writes "Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing is reporting that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the National Security Agency execute illegal warrant-less wiretaps against American citizens. From the article: 'The lawsuits alleges that AT&T Corp. has opened its key telecommunications facilities and databases to direct access by the NSA and/or other government agencies, thereby disclosing to the government the contents of its customers' communications as well as detailed communications records about millions of its customers, including the lawsuit's class members.'"

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TLA truck overturns on the turnpike (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611659)

thousands confused...

Re:TLA truck overturns on the turnpike (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612036)

How is this off topic? They couldn't have worked more alphabet-soup acronyms into the headline if they tried?

Well, maybe they could. Let's try rewriting the story:

YRO: EFF vs ATT re NSA FUBAR

CD of BB SEZ EFF vs AT&T re: NSA USC H4X0R FTA: "SNAFU: ATT let NSA, other GAs p0wn NOCs, POTS, & DBs"

19 acronyms, 5 abbreviations, etc.

Well, its certainly Acronym 2.0 compliant.

NSA censorship? (0, Redundant)

gricholson75 (563000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611662)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

AT&T Contract with end users (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611669)

so, is this against an at&t eula?

Yes! (5, Funny)

s0rbix (629316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611676)

EFF is my BFF.

For the love of all that's good... (0, Troll)

bconway (63464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611678)

Someone, please, stop the EFF before it's too late. I know they might think of these things as a "why not, let's give it a shot and see what happens" deal, but these trials and the EFF's continued losses are going to be a serious impact on ALL of our futures. I know, I get a chuckle too after seeing the latest story about how they've been laughed out of court, again, and see how riled up people get over it, but this needs to stop now. Our rights, and our (US citizens) futures may depend on it.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (5, Insightful)

vodkamattvt (819309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611748)

What is the alternative? Just let it happen? Wait until there *might* be an administration or government or judges that are more sympathetic to privacy?

You cant just ignore something and hope it goes away, they are fighting the good fight within the system .. and are losing some ground, but I dont see anyone else trying as hard.

The Alternative (5, Insightful)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611922)

The Alternative is called picking your battles. The EFF is taking a Hail Mary pass approach to it's lawsuits. Sure taking on AT&T looks great and gets you a lot of press but you're just not going to win unless they make a huge tactical error.

Instead you take a page from the *IAA Big Book o' Lawsuits. Go after the bottom of the food chain (Grokster anyone?). Find cases where smaller independant or regional telecoms/isps have given up data, and go after them, building precedent to use for later cases.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (-1, Flamebait)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611925)

Solution is simple. Stop electing dumbass Republicans !!

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611760)

I think they see some of the kooky things the ACLU goes after and makes the news doing and thinks, why not us? But it (the EFF) apparently hasn't noticed that they don't have the huge base of support the ACLU has, that will continue contributing large sums no matter what.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611761)

Just so I understand, are you saying suing to protect our rights and freedoms diminishes our rights and freedoms?

Re:For the love of all that's good... (4, Interesting)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611970)

When the result is a loss, yes it does. It sets legal precedent which will be cited in future cases.

Excuse me? (4, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611769)

Do nothing. Roll over. Keep quiet. Don't stick your neck out. Hunker down. Give up. Deal with it. Surrender. Comply.

Is that what you'd recommend in the face of arrogance and tyranny?

Re:Excuse me? (1)

the-amazing-blob (917722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611855)

Sadly, it has definetely worked for the masses so far.

I think it's more of the (5, Interesting)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611926)

"if you're doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about" mentality. I have heard this come out some relatively educated people's (college) mouths. Unfortunately, a lot of people have complete trust in the Government (US Citizens) and they don't remember the abuses of Gov. power in the past: McCarthy (sp?), Hoover and the FBI, Nixon, etc... Nor do they remember abuses of Government power by other Governments.

It's kind of sad. I once had a Biz Law class and when the prof (JD) asked the class if the folks who are arrested for "terrorism" deserve due process, the only people who raised their hands were the Naturalized citizens and me - born 'N raised AMerican - Fuck Yeah! The prof asked the few who raised their hands what their background was - that's how we knew they were naturalized. Sad.

Re:Excuse me? (1, Interesting)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611908)

Well, actually, that's precisely what is expected of us.

What can we, as individuals, really do? We honestly live in what appears to be the most well managed, well thought out, and well prepared oppressive regime in history. The system of control, mostly based upon financial necessities in modern life and social backlash for displaying resistant behavior, is so nearly perfect that there's very little outright violence needed. In a way the cattle are packed so tightly together that there's no room to break out of the cattle farm even if one wanted to. With such a well managed system in place even people who, in centuries past, may have identified and resisted the oppression are unable to notice any oppression. To them, this is just the way things should always be.

How I wish I had been born as one of those average folk who could be satisified by nightly television and a cookie cutter job. Unless a person finds themselves accepted into social circles filled with already-powerful individuals the desire to excel is a sentence of lifelong misery. Ridicule and ostricism comes from the average folk--the overwhelming majority--and denial, ridicule, harassment, and ostricism comes from the priveleged folk.

Re:Excuse me? (4, Funny)

waynemcdougall (631415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611918)

Do nothing. Roll over. Keep quiet. Don't stick your neck out. Hunker down. Give up. Deal with it. Surrender. Comply.

Is that what you'd recommend in the face of arrogance and tyranny?

Uh, no, I'd recommend:

click...I, for one, welcome our warrantless, wire-tapping overlords...hello, hello, is this thing on, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? I SAID I can be useful in rounding up fellow slashdotters to slave in your undeground Echelon data store....click

Do you think governmental abuses of power... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611774)

.. get better when nobody bothers to object?

When has that ever happened?

Laws against warrantless spying on US citizens exist for a reason. History demonstrates that when the government has this power, they don't just use it on terrorists. First they use it on terrorists, but then they use it on drug dealers. Next come child pornographers. After that, conventional pornographers. Then, "radical" artists and dissidents.

Before long, they're spying on the modern-day heirs to the radical legacy of Martin Luther King and John Lennon.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611778)

Someone, please, stop the EFF before it's too late. I know they might think of these things as a "why not, let's give it a shot and see what happens" deal, but these trials and the EFF's continued losses are going to be a serious impact on ALL of our futures. I know, I get a chuckle too after seeing the latest story about how they've been laughed out of court, again, and see how riled up people get over it, but this needs to stop now. Our rights, and our (US citizens) futures may depend on it.

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is good men do nothing.

I'd rather they kept plugging away, regardless of losses. If there's one less soldier on your side, it's all the more likely the other side will prevail.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (2, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611874)

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is good men do nothing.

Ironically, all that is necessary for good to fail is for good men to be ignorant.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (0, Offtopic)

evil agent (918566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611909)

Wow, you just gave a good argument justifying the Iraq War. Hurry up and retract before you're banned from /.!!

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1)

pinkocommie (696223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611784)

I was going to mod you down as flamebait but thought it'd be better to ask you to simply provide proof of the same? Why exactly is suing a company that clearly did something illegal wrong or bad? And why dont we get a list of cases that they've won vs lost beyond your opinion and how they have played a part in reducing our freedoms?

Re:For the love of all that's good... (3, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612008)

It's not at all clear that AT&T has done something illegal, if for no other reason than if they had, this lawsuit would not be necessary. The whole point of a lawsuit, after all, is to try to prove that somebody did something illegal. In fact, if the EFF loses this case, it will establish a precedent that what AT&T did is not illegal.

But even beyond that, the matter is highly controversial and hotly debated. There's the question of the extent of the Executive's power to conduct military operations during wartime. There's the question of whether or not the definition of "military operations" includes intelligence-gathering operations conducted by the Executive. There's the question of the wisdom of arbitrarily curbing the Executive's constituional authority, which would make it more difficult for the Executive to fulfill its constitutional responsiblities.

And these are just a few of the more interesting (to me) questions of principle. There's also the practical questions: how much of what's being said about this issue is FUD from partisans, extremists, the media-industrial complex, etc.

Then there's the technical questions: You raid a cell in Pakistan, find a U.S. phone number on a computer there. In criminal justice terms, that's not probable cause to tap a phone line. What do you do? Give up? Hope that number doesn't reach an active cell planning to smuggle an Iranian suitcase nuke across the Mexican border? Or do you say, I'm Executive, the Constitution gives me the responsibility to do whatever I can and whatever I need to do to protect the country in time of war, and Congress has told me this is a time of war, so tap that fucker and let's see what's up?

Now, I admit that the responsible answer to that question depends a lot on the answers to the preceding questions. My point is that there is no consensus on the preceding questions, and therefore it's not at all obvious that AT&T did anything illegal.

There's nothing wrong with suing a company allegedly did something "obviously illegal". There is a problem with suing a company that did something not obviously illegal, and losing the suit. The problem is that this sets a precedent whereby the not obviously illegal act becomes obviously legal. This would be the oppsite of a Good Thing.

Personally, having forgotten to get fitted for a tinfoil beanie when I signed up for my /. account, I hope that the EFF does lose this suit, thus bolstering Bush's case for Executive freedom of action in military matters during wartime (subject to initial Legislative approval, of course).

Re:For the love of all that's good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611826)

> Our rights, and our (US citizens) futures may depend on it.

Don't be such a fucking twat. The laws are there for a reason. Just because you've bought into that `war on terror` crap doesn't mean we all have to suffer. Keep your islamophobic paranoia to yourself.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (2, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611860)

I tend to agree with you. The proper forum for this is impeachment. The president has committed felonies. This is not my opionion but the opinion of virtually every legal scholar who has spoken out on this matter.

The problem is what recourse do you have when you have a congress who values party loyalty above the constituion of the unites states? I certainly don't think the courts are an option in this case since they have been packed with republicans all the way up and down the chain. I certainly don't expect any of those nominees to have more of a loyalty to the constitution then the congress does.

Yes the EFF will lose this case, no I don't know what the alternative is. It seems like we are SOL on this one. Even if the congress changes parties in the next election it will be too late and nothing will be done (not that there is a whole lot of difference between them in the first place).

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1, Redundant)

deKernel (65640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611904)

The only people who say this do NOT have any credibility. The President has not done anything wrong. It is his job to protect and serve the people. Please do not interpret your opinions with facts.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611946)

Where is the guarantee that these wiretaps will protect and serve the people? The war on terrorism will fail just like the war on drugs failed. Yet we continue to throw good money after bad, and are oh so willing to burn the Constitution in the process. The terrorists have already won.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611973)

The only people who say this do NOT have any credibility

i suggest that you read - in particular - before putting your own credibility on the line again. thank you. :)

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611994)

uh... my first link [wikipedia.org] , and my second link [wikipedia.org] disapeard when i clicked submit instead of preview.... sorry. :\

Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 1 minute since you last successfully posted a comment

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1)

Egatlov (946979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612039)

Yeah!!!!
Impeach Bush!!!
Then Cheney becomes president.....
As amusing as it would be to see a puppetmaster thrown into the national spotlight, I'd rather just stick with Bush for the remainder of his term than let a man wholy consumed by evil take the reins.

Re:For the love of all that's good... (1)

Kev_Stewart (737140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611875)

You don't write for The Register do you?

+1 Inciteful

not

Re:For the love of all that's good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611877)

Right. Not talking about these issues, not filing lawsuits, and not getting people riled up is the perfect way to protect our freedoms.

We can't help it if the courts don't get it. Eventually, if enough people get on the ball, they will.

The easiest way to lose is to stop fighting.

It's about time EFF got back into the news! (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611683)

This will definitely be an interesting story to follow. This will put companies on the defensive for complying with any illegal acts by the government. Some say you can't sue the government, but you sure as hell can sue the people who comply with illegal acts. Why didn't I think about that angle? I just assumed they tapped the communications in some way that circumvented the companies...

Re:It's about time EFF got back into the news! (1)

Siergen (607001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611787)

If the EFF truly thought it was illegal, they'd be suing the US government directly. That would stop the NSA from asking ANY company to assist them, not just AT&T. Instead, they apparently have decided they can't prove that the NSA is breaking any laws, so they are hoping to use the threat of legal costs and bad publicity to force AT&T to stop fulfilling lawful requests from the US government...

Re:It's about time EFF got back into the news! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611841)

How are they lawful without a warrant?

Re:It's about time EFF got back into the news! (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611863)

Why, because the current President of the United States says so, and it's not like he's every got anything wrong before.

you serious? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612060)

There's been plenty of debate on that already. The concensus - at least, amongst those actualy qualified to examine the controversy - has been that the president did nothing illegal. Even Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , which has a tendency to be left-leaning, states that "an actual evaluation of FISA reveals that the President does have the legal authority to order electronic surveillance without court order, even on conversations taking place between folks inside of the US and folks outside of the US".

Even if by some miracle you could show that what the government did was illegal, how does suing AT&T help? If the government DID do something illegal, then AT&T was a victim of fraud. If the government didn't do anything illegal, then neither did AT&T. Either way, the lawsuit is frivolous.

Re:It's about time EFF got back into the news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611848)

You do realize that you have to ask the government to allow you to sue it, right? And that permission is almost never granted by the federal government right?

If it weren't so, things wouldn't be such a mess with regards to unconstitutionality, since you can't do anything about it unless the government puts you in court so you can appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, or the feds deign to let you sue them over it.

Re:It's about time EFF got back into the news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611950)

You are assuming a lot with your statement. It is much more likely that the fastest route to get the wiretapping stopped is by first filing suits against the companies complying with illegal requests for wire taps. Once the wire tapping has been stopped through the legal actions against the company not only do you have those court rulings to use in future cases, but you can start the lengthy legal process against the government. The fight to stop illegal wire taps being performed by the U.S. Government is likely to not be a single case in a single court. It is more likely to be a number of cases against the companies performing the tapping, the U.S. Government for requesting the taps in the first place, and it's likely these cases will go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Re:It's about time EFF got back into the news! (1)

akasper (519414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612019)

If the EFF sued the government... then wouldn't that mean that "we" the taxpayers would have to pay the settlement? Or am I getting this all wrong?

I agree with the others... go after corporations... they have seem to have the most influence on our government anyway...

Not illegal. (0, Flamebait)

tabbser (560130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611685)

Who says it was US Citizens ? I've not seen that anywhere.
The president was granted this power by congress and congress knew all along about it.
Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:Not illegal. (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611740)

Uh, no. Congress did not grant this power explicitly. Congress allowed military action. And from what I've heard, they are spinning this to mean that domestic wiretaps are okay. Here's the problem:

They already have the power to do these things without a warrant so long as they go back and get the warrant within 72 hours. This gives them the ability to act on a lead immediately without the hassle of waiting on a judge. They don't want to do even THAT much -- they want whatever they are doing to be SECRET and to be UNACCOUNTABLE for it. Ultimately, I believe we will find that it is going well beyond communications where one side is 'al qaeda' and the other side is in the U.S. I think if we get to see what they are REALLY doing, we'll find investigations against anti-war and anti-Bush organizations and their members.

Re:Not illegal. (1)

delong (125205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611861)

Uh, no right back at ya. The Congress issued the Authorization for the Use of Force, which states:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons

This is an explicit authorization under the War Powers Act, ie a declaration of war against Al Qaeda, and empowers the President to use the full extent of his Constitutional War Powers as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

Surveilance of foreign communications to intercept enemy intelligence is, and always has been, an inherent aspect of waging war, and so is within the President's inherent Constitutional power.

As to the 72 hour provision - first of all, Congress does not have the power to limit the President's inherent Constitutional powers. Second, the AUMF is a later expression of sovereign will by the Congress, and supercedes FISA. Third, even though wiretaps are allowed for 72 hours without a warrant, the standard for approval by the Attorney General is the same standard required to get a warrant - in other words, there is no "get out of warrant free card" in FISA. Fourth, FISA's provisions were meant to cover surveiling of known foreign agents in known locations for purposes of observation, not detection. The "domestic spying" (which is a complete misnomer, btw) is for the purpose of uncovering foreign agents within the US when known terrorists abroad attempt to communicate with parties within the US.

Nice, Except (4, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612061)

The Constitution does not allow for warrantless searches. Read the fourth amendment, it is pretty clear. This means that the president does not have the power to order them and the congress does not have the power to permit them.

already seen it (4, Insightful)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611888)

They have been spying on the Quakers, for fuck's sake. You know - the Protestant sect best known for militant PACIFICISM?!??

This is the litmus test for true American Patriotism. If you aren't outraged, you aren't a patriot. At best, you are a nationalist.

Re:Not illegal. (1)

ZaMoose (24734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611934)

A huge part of making war in a modern context is signals intelligence (SIGINT). An army or a nation can grok how best to defend themselves against their enemies if they know what their enemies are planning.

I think the major issue facing the population of the US is a difference in mindset. President Bush and those who agree with him see the current world situation as one of war - the radical Islamists have stated their enmity openly and declared war on us. Thus, any actions that would be appropriate in a time of war are appropriate now. Those who disagree with Bush see the problem of Islamist terrorism as primarily a law enforcement matter, meaning that actions that would be reasonable in a time of war are not viewed as reasonable by this set.

I, personally, fall on the President's side. I believe the Islamo-fascists when they say they want to kill me and my entire family, neighbors, friends and coworkers simply because we're kaffirs living in Dar al Harb. I want the President taking the necessary step of surveiling our active stated enemies in order to have a shot at preventing the nutcases from taking another 9/11-esque shot at me and mine.

I don't see how it can be any other way, given the state of the world.

Re:Not illegal. (1)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612062)

It worries you not at all, you don't see anything wrong, with setting a legal precedent which says that for all practical purposes... we might as well conduct ourselves as a nation at war from now until the end of the world? In my opinion there's something seriously wrong with a nation which needs to declare indefinite war on an indefinite for to justify actions which amount to little more than blatant paranoia.

There is always going to be some fringe group someplace which, given half the chance, will start spewing hate speech. Many of them can be found in low-income communities right here in the US. I'd much prefer that we investigate why these people feel oppressed, used, and underpriveleged rather than tracking them like animals just waiting for the excuse to spring on them.

Re:Not illegal. (1)

BetaJim (140649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611943)

Here's the problem:

They already have the power to do these things without a warrant so long as they go back and get the warrant within 72 hours. This gives them the ability to act on a lead immediately without the hassle of waiting on a judge. They don't want to do even THAT much -- they want whatever they are doing to be SECRET and to be UNACCOUNTABLE for it. Ultimately, I believe we will find that it is going well beyond communications where one side is 'al qaeda' and the other side is in the U.S. I think if we get to see what they are REALLY doing, we'll find investigations against anti-war and anti-Bush organizations and their members.

This absolutely on the spot! I have not seen any major news outlet utter this simple bit of insight. The only thing you keep hearing from Bush's press secretary is that the wiretapping is "targeted". BS. I won't believe it until there is some proof that is it targeted. Oh, but the administration can't provide any proof can they, because they never got any warrents to begin with! We have checks and balances in our governent for a reason Mr. President!

Re:Not illegal. (2, Insightful)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612013)

I don't know which bothers me more. Bush's exercision of wartime powers without any formal declaration of war, or AT&T's Daytona database [att.com] .

From one of the deep-linked pages:
For example, Daytona is managing over 312 terabytes of data in a 7x24 production data warehouse whose largest table contains over 743 billion rows as of Sept 2005. Indeed, for this database, Daytona is managing over 1.924 trillion rows; it could easily manage more but we ran out of data.
I'm all for letting companies collect necessary customer information but there's just something about a database that large which really makes me doubt that it's used solely for business-related purposes. There's nothing which an oppressive government regime enjoys more than a database which contains so much information that, at any time of any day, they could probably massage the database into providing damning evidence against anyone.

Re:Not illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14612012)


First of all these weren't for domestic wiretaps. From the (admittedly vague) descriptions it sounds like if someone they're listening to overseas calls someone here they don't have to get a warrant for the person here, just for that call.

Warrantless searches are something the president does actually have considerable power to conduct. Clinton authorized warrantless searches for at least one case we know of (Aldrich Ames) and spoke of expanding it to non-national security matters (ie. purely domestic.

Re:Not illegal. (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611746)

Who says it was US Citizens ? I've not seen that anywhere. The president was granted this power by congress and congress knew all along about it. Nothing to see here, move along.

Aren't you supposed to be preparing for your speech tonight?

Re:Not illegal. (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611765)

Isn't like the packed supreme court would side on the side of the people and not the executive!

Fuck You (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611788)

There is no polite way to respond to your ignorance.

Instead of "Informative . . ." (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611793)

. . . maybe that should have been modded "Informer."

Re:Not illegal. (1)

YooHoo2U2 (944651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611796)

Who says it was US Citizens ? I've not seen that anywhere. The president was granted this power by congress and congress knew all along about it. Nothing to see here, move along.

Shut up, George. And tell your little friends Dicky and Donnie to quit ringing my doorbell. Damn kids.

Re:Not illegal. (1)

Omega1045 (584264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611804)

Who says it was US Citizens ? I've not seen that anywhere.

You are kidding, right? I mean, are you just trolling or are you serious? I am not even going to provide a link. Just go to Google News a enter "NSA Wiretapping". There is a ton of information that US Citizens were the subject of wiretaps, sans warrant. Man, I am a conservative, and even I think that your statement is like saying, "There Earth is flat. Where has anyone said it is round?"

Re:Not illegal. (4, Insightful)

thule (9041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611979)

From what I've read, there isn't much real knowledge of the NSA program. There is quite a bit of speculation though. We do not know if it was US Citizens, it may only be US Persons, or people simply living in the US and are not citizens. We do no know if it is real taps, or simple data mining. Data mining as in connecting the dots between known enemy phone numbers and connected calls inside the US. Since the administration apparently still used the FISA court in some cases, some have speculated that once enough dots were connected FISA would have to get involved so that calls could be monitored and recorded. Then again, why would it be illegal for the Commander in Chief to order taps on known enemies on the battlefield (the US is part of the battlefield)?

For a history of how the US government dealt with communication during wars, read up on Ben Franklin on the NSA web site. Interesting reading.

No such information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14612007)

I am not even going to provide a link. Just go to Google News a enter "NSA Wiretapping". There is a ton of information that US Citizens were the subject of wiretaps, sans warrant.

I can't find any. All I can find is people speculating that American citizens who were not on one end of a link to someone overseas might have been subject to wiretapping.

Provide a link. I think you have been reading the stories with purple-colored glasses where you see what you have preconceived to be the content of the story -- not the actual story.

Re:Not illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14612014)

don't forget to mention who these "citizens" were talking to at the other end of the line.

Re:Not illegal. (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611935)

The president was granted this power by congress and congress knew all along about it.

Nonsense. Congress knew nothing about it. The wiretaps were "authorized" by the Office of Legal Council, an arm of the Justice Department full of appointed judges, appointed by. . .Guess who?

Nor was there a lot of agreement within the OLC about the legality of the wiretaps:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11079547/site/newsweek /print/1/displaymode/1098/ [msn.com]

These are the same people who said that just because we signed the Geneva Convention doesn't mean we're bound by it, but can still bitch about anyone else not obeying it, because it's the law.

I've not seen that anywhere.

Really?

http://www.rense.com/general69/legit.htm [rense.com]

Well, now you have.

KFG

Re:Not illegal. (1)

idsofmarch (646389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612053)

Who says it was US Citizens ? I've not seen that anywhere.

Then you haven't read a single article on the subject, obviously if it were international calls only, there would not be a Constitutional issue.

The president was granted this power by congress and congress knew all along about it.

This is a nice talking point, but utter bullshit.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Good to see that you care so much for the Constitution.

Why am I answering such an obvious troll?

LOCAL CALLS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611690)

So it's local calls too, not just international ?

New Slogan (4, Funny)

cloudkj (685320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611691)

The new AT&T. Your world, wiretapped.

Where is the PayPal button to contribute... (0, Troll)

BTO (604614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611699)

...to AT&T's defense?

Flip Side? (3, Insightful)

akasper (519414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611708)

What would have happened to AT&T if they had not complied with the demands of government agencies?

Re:Flip Side? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611766)

The agencies would come back with a warrant, like they're supposed to?

Re:Flip Side? (1)

akasper (519414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611825)

Maybe they're afraid of losing their influence and lobbying power? Or maybe they just give in easily after being forced to break up from their monopoly decades ago... ;)

Re:Flip Side? (1)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612045)

"What would have happened to AT&T if they had not complied with the demands of government agencies?"

Their stock would be as popular as Google's.. Oh wait.. China.. hrmm.

What'd they say? (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611721)


"What'd they say?"
"Said they're gonna sue AT&T."
"Why?"
"Dunno, probably because AT&T let's us wiretap illegally."
"What're they saying now?"
"Something about their line is probably even now being bugged."
"Harsh!"

TLAs... (4, Funny)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611723)

EFF Sues AT&T Over NSA Wiretapping

OMG!

Good for them. (2, Funny)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611728)

Nice to see someone finally starting some backlash for the tapping, even if it's not against the government.

In other news, Cory better be careful or he may get another mean letter [slashdot.org] calling him names and threatenin' all legal-like.

Re:Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611879)

Illegal or extra-legal like too...

Does the NSA need help? (3, Funny)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611742)

I thought the NSA just happened to have satellite dishes right next to every communications down link in the US.

Maybe they haven't yet perfected undersea cable interception.

Where are those laser guided sharks when you need them?

Re:Does the NSA need help? (1)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611939)

Sorry there, they were placed on the endangered species list. But I do have some tuna with lasers on their heads. They're genetically mutated tuna at that.

WMDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611752)

Maybe the NSA told AT&T that they needed access to their databases because WMDs were being built in there. Operation AT&T Freedom

not the typical class action suit... (5, Insightful)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611790)



The text of the EFF lawsuit [eff.org] requests damages of $100 per day for each day the violation occurred or $10,000 (whichever is greater) be paid to each class member. Sure beats getting a coupon for $10 off our next purchase of a bill of rights.

Seth

What ever happened to ... (2, Insightful)

thundergeek (808819) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611795)

Probable Cause?

From what I can remember my trooper friend saying. "If it's visible by the Post Man, I don't need a warrant." Meaning if some idiot decides to grow weed on the coffee table in front of the picture window, the police can knock the door down and arrest everyone, without a warrant.

Doesn't this procedure fall under probable cause? They had cause to believe these imagrants, who weren't even US Citizens, had ties to terrorism. Isn't that enough?

Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not a lawyer or anything. You can tell by my spelling.

Re:What ever happened to ... (3, Informative)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611895)

The problem is that to determine if there is probable cause for arrest, they're intruding on the privacy of everyone else by searching through databases containing innocent phone conversations and private information. They did not have probable cause to search through this other information. That is where the main issue lies; the privacy and security of everyone is being compromised to seek out the few that have done something wrong.

Re:What ever happened to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611913)

how do you know they were immigrants? how do you know anything - this information is top secret and nobody is told about it. usually, that means someone is hiding something.

what are are they hiding? the fact they are tapping all sorts of americans and only americans while lying to the public about it?

decent people want to know.

Re:What ever happened to ... (4, Informative)

Wah (30840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611944)

Immigrants?
WASHINGTON - A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a "threat" and one of more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" across the country over a recent 10-month period.
[full story [msn.com] ]

Jeez, a couple weeks of Doublespeak ("terrorist surviellance program") and a whole bunch of people forget what the hubbub is all about.

Re:What ever happened to ... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611953)

They had cause to believe these imagrants, who weren't even US Citizens, had ties to terrorism. Isn't that enough?

What immigrants? You have a list of them?

Anytime Bush wanted to make this legal, all he had to do is hand over this list of "non-citizens" he had already tapped to the super-secret FISA court he filled with his best buddies after the USA PATRIOT act and tell them to issue warrants. Why didn't he? Can you come up with any reason other than it was not a "list of non-citizens"? Did the voice in his head tell him his best friends were Iranian moles? Did he just set the paperwork down on Jose Padilla's criminal indictment and misplace it for three years? Did he think Cheney would do it, while Cheney thought Bush was going to? If you have a reason for Bush refusing to get warrants for the wiretaps, please, the entire world wants to know.

Re:What ever happened to ... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611962)

No. It comes down to an expectation of privacy.

The "in plain sight" rule is what you are talking about. If a crime or items related to a crime are in plain sight, there's no need for a warrant (or a search for that matter). That has nothing to do with probable cause.

Probable cause is why you can be stopped by the police... if they don't have it, they are either guessing (bad) or harassing you (bad). What is needed for a warrant is a judge... the judge will review the application and see if there is probable cause.

The problem with wiretaps is that they always require a warrant (under FISA, it can be a secret warrant, even approved after the fact) unless it is against someone outside of the US, or withing 15 days of the beginning of a declared war.

Neither of those thresholds were met.

There were no warrants, no intentions to get warrants, and the government has admitted they don't even know who all the people were which were surveiled, so it is impossible they had a reasonable cause to suspect them all.

In other words, it was illegal, on the face of it, but because it was approved by the President and implemented in secret, there was no chance for review.

So now that people know, they can sue those companies which participated in it without the proper warrants.

Interesting (4, Interesting)

ewhac (5844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611797)

By responding to a wiretapping request they knew to be illegal, AT&T became complicit to the act, and can be charged with aiding and abetting.

It's a valid assertion. "I was just following orders," has long been regarded as no defense. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

Schwab

Re:Interesting (1, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611907)

Everyone forgets about the unwritten rules.

Unwritten Rule 37.2.b: Don't fuck with the NSA.

I hope you realize the peril I'm facing for writting an unwritten rule, but I thought it had to be said.

this is a mistake by EFF (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611824)

This is a very partisan move by EFF. I want them to stay out of politics and focus on what they do well. As a Republican who is concerned for individual rights, I am disappointed by this move and will likely not support the EFF down the road. I've given them donations in the past, but it certainly wasn't intended to piss on the NSA and the sitting president via ATT. Those who protect individual rights will obviously have to try harder not to take sides in something that's clearly a party politics issue. Damn you EFF, you had such a good thing going.

Re:this is a mistake by EFF (0, Troll)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611852)

You're the one that's being a partisant.

Re:this is a mistake by EFF (0)

ActivLink (463333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611894)

As a Republican who is concerned for individual rights...

heh. heh heh.

Party Politics issue? (1, Troll)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611919)

This is freedom vs. police state. If your party is for the latter, fuck off.

Re:this is a mistake by EFF (1)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611993)

Maybe you're a Republican, but you're not being conservative here. I'm a Republican also, but I really do not see this as 'clearly a party politics issue.'

If the government is violating Americans' guaranteed Civil Rights, then us Americans should know about it. The government is not above the law in the US..

Nowhere in the article is the President or any political party mentioned. I don't see how anyone could make the connection that this is 'pissing on the NSA' or anything but the EFF fighting against ILLEGAL wiretaps.

With your posting as an anonymous coward and stating that you're a Republican stating you're for civil rights while ranting against the EFF for fighting for those civil rights with baseless connections, it seems more likely that you're just someone who is trying to portray Republicans as idiots. So therefore, you're a super-liberal doing nothing but pissing on Republicans. Okay, so my connection was as baseless as yours.. but it is for illustrative purposes.

Either you're the type of Republican that makes Republicans look bad, or you're the non-Republican acting like said Republican.

Gotta Love Lawyers... (0, Flamebait)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611827)

I think the only way the EFF can when this is to prove that AT&T is their long distance carrier and that the NSA was sniffing their traffic. The first part should be easy but the second part might be more difficult. If the NSA was smart, all the EFF traffic would've been sent straight to the bit bucket for wasting bandwidth.

Direct link to TFA...? (3, Informative)

cswiger2005 (905744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611853)

How about directly linking to the article, rather than bouncing through a portal full of ads?

http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/ [eff.org]

Seems like BoingBoing.com is trolling for hits with several recent articles. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, but I'd wish the Slashdot editors to prefer primary content to secondary sources being framed within ad bars on all sides....

That's OK. (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612005)

Seems like BoingBoing.com is trolling for hits with several recent articles

They plugged /. on PBS: News Hour with Jim Lehrer the other night when discussing the NY Times bringing their site down for a couple days.

Man, their spokesperson really needs a make-over, too! It was Goth meets Suzy Orman!

If AT&T is innocent, they have nothing to hide (5, Funny)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611893)

Just like a citizen who is not guilty of any crimes should welcome the friendly government agent asking for his papers, if AT&T is innocent they should welcome this. If they have not been breaking laws by complying with the NSA, then they have nothing to fear. Should AT&T attempt to fight this, it must be because they are definitely guilty of violating laws.

Re:If AT&T is innocent, they have nothing to h (3, Informative)

speed-sf (721339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612023)

This arguement is common and dangerous. Not only do unlimited wiretaps destroy our privacy they destroy our anonymity. Free speech means I can communicate over any medium and say anything I want. Including criticism of the current government. In the private sphere of my house I cannot be prosecuted for ANYTHING I say. But these days, the Patriot Act and other dubious pieces of legislation allow the government to hold me without cause, brand me a terrorist and destroy my life. AT&T is now making that even easier, I'm not sure the best way of protecting your people and a way of life lies in destroying that which makes it free. I'm sure the American Revolution would never have happened if gov't had known about it.

Of course it's Slashdot... (1, Interesting)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611903)

So you assume that the wiretaps were/are illegal. Although that
is far from an established fact. I mean, the NYT said so, it must
  be true...

      Brett

So next time you make a call (3, Funny)

MasterCommanderZero (951065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611906)

Just say "I'm a sex bomb". Your call will be recorded -> keyword match. Then you can pass any message you want to the governement, at least someone will be listening.

Just how much (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611941)

..will the EFF squeeze out of AT&T, if they win?

What are the damages? Did anyone lose their livelihoods because of this? Or even a nickel?

What are the class members going to claim?

More, MORE! (1)

harris s newman (714436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611982)

I for one praise the EFF for going after companies that thumb their nose at the law. The king, er, I mean president may be above the law, but not corporations.

Want to help? Join the EFF today! (5)

toby (759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611992)

That clinches it... I have thought about contributing [eff.org] before, but this clinches it. I'm going to join.

what should AT&T have done, exactly? (2, Interesting)

Marsmensch (870400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14612047)

What exactly is the process of having the wiretaps executed by AT&T? Is the EFF expecting AT&T to determine if the taps are legal or if the warrants are valid? Shouldn't that be a judge's job or is there some standard procedure AT&T neglected to follow?

Not trolling here, this is a serious question.

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