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Comcast Charges $1000 Per Wiretap

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the wonder-what-they-charge-to-shoot-you-in-the-mouth dept.

Communications 178

It seems trashing the Fourth Amendment is very profitable: For one company, FISA wiretaps carry a $1K pricetag

Comcast, which is among the nation's largest telecommunication companies, charges $1,000 to install a FISA wiretap and $750 for each additional month authorities want to keep an eye on suspects, according to the company's Handbook for Law Enforcement. Secrecy News obtained the document and published it Monday.

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Wasn't this... (2)

Draeven (166561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070751)

posted before?

Re:Wasn't this... (4, Informative)

Draeven (166561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070825)

You mean This? [slashdot.org]

One week ago (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070885)

Yup ... just one week ago [slashdot.org] . It was easily found with just "comcast [slashdot.org] " in the search page.

Maybe they meant to post THIS (2, Interesting)

alteran (70039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071549)

75 year old takes a hammer to Comcast [washingtonpost.com] .

Re:Maybe they meant to post THIS (1)

absorbr (995554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071927)

ahaha -- my hero :)

illegal? (5, Interesting)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070755)

It talks about FISA-court approved wiretaps ... how come the title says illegal?

Re:illegal? (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070883)

You're right. At least with FISA, there is some judicial oversight. Of course, this is judicial oversight by a secret court with closed proceedings in direct violation of the Constitution (right to be protected against unreasonable/unwarranted searches and seizures, right to a fair trial by jury of your peers) but at least it's technically legal under the Foreign Intelligence and Security Act.

Re:illegal? (5, Insightful)

grylnsmn (460178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070997)

Actually, you are way off base, for several reasons.

Yes, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures, but the presumption is that because a warrant is only issued by a judge "upon probable cause", a search based on that warrant is not unreasonable, because it is "supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized", and there are penalties for perjury.

There is also nothing in the Fourth Amendment that requires that you be informed of a warrant issued against you before it is carried out (in fact, if you were notified of a wiretap warrant, the wiretap would be completely useless, regardless of whether the court that issued it was a "secret court" or not).

Finally, what does the "right to a fair trial by jury of your peers" have to do with warrants and wiretaps? Warrants and wiretaps are used prior to the trial to gather evidence. The trial is when it is presented to the judge and jury. In fact, the FISA court does not hear criminal cases. It only handles matters like issuing warrants and reviewing of classified information.

So, where is any of that a violation of the Constitution?

Re:illegal? (5, Funny)

jabster (198058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071033)

Stop that.

I read smatterings of logic and intelligence in your post.

This is slashdot.

We will have none of that here.

Now be off with you.

-john

Re:illegal? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071147)

Yes, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures, but the presumption is that because a warrant is only issued by a judge "upon probable cause", a search based on that warrant is not unreasonable, because it is "supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized", and there are penalties for perjury.
Right. But because the proceedings of this secret court are closed, the public can't really know whether a particular warrant was, in fact, issued "upon probable cause," unlike in an ordinary court. There's no oversight, so how would anyone involved be prosecuted for perjury?

Re:illegal? (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071203)

I think the simple fact that the court can't issue a blanket warrant covers this fairly well. The constitutional protection essentially means they can't go house to house looking for stuff. How flimsy their probable cause is isn't really built into the constitution.

Re:illegal? (2, Insightful)

grylnsmn (460178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071215)

How is that any different than any other court where testimony, evidence, or filings are sealed from public examination? All of those have been upheld as Constitutional for quite some time.

Really? I've been misled. (-1, Troll)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071321)

Shit man, everything they told me about this country full of fat ignorant religious slugs is wrong. We're no better than any other civilized European country, in fact we seem to be worse. More violence, more ignorance, more greed...

US Citizenship is a business relationship as far as I am concerned....what a load of shit. I guess I'll profit as best I can and then escape before it's too late.

Let's Look at the Fourth Amendment! (1, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071419)

When quoting the fourth amendment to the constitution, you should quote the whole thing:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

FISA violates that by being a secret court. It is, in fact, a kind of star chamber [wikipedia.org] and is particularly unAmerican. The whole idea behind the fourth amendment is to protect you from arbitrary or politically motivated violations. Three or four unaccountable people say so is no "reasonable" grounds for a search in a real democracy.

It's an open secret that wiretapping has far exceeded the bounds of FISA charade. The phones of newsmen have been tapped and other intercepts have been made to find "leakers" in the Plame Wilson Scandal [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Let's Look at the Fourth Amendment! (2)

grylnsmn (460178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071481)

What in there prohibits a "secret court"?

Moreover, where are courts required to publish a public record of all warrants issued, especially for wiretaps? Last i checked, the entire point ofa wiretap is that the person being tapped doesn't know about it.

Re:Let's Look at the Fourth Amendment! (2, Interesting)

HouseArrest420 (1105077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071667)

[quote] Three or four unaccountable people say so is no "reasonable" grounds for a search in a real democracy. [/quote] Do you really know enough about US law to make a claim about US law? Let's put this in another context. 4 of your neighbors call the police and say they believe your running drugs out of your house due to the mass amounts of traffic to and from your house thru the day. That right there is enough for a search warrent (and those statements didn't even come from law enforcement officials), it will lead to a RAID (sp?) if the police already suspected this. This happened 2 times (first was the warrent, second was the raid) to the house across the street from my home, which is how I know this can, and does, happen.

Re:Let's Look at the Fourth Amendment! (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071915)

Could it be possible that they happened to have staked the place out in advance and watched the traffic, and the four neighbours all in agreement in their stories led them to believe this isn't just some crackpot but might be legit? Maybe they had the place cased for weeks.

To wit, do you really know enough about police activity to make a claim about police activity? (I.e., were you privy to the behind the scenes work or were you just basing this all on what you saw outside your window?)

Re:Let's Look at the Fourth Amendment! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072015)

4 of your neighbors call the police and say they believe your running drugs out of your house due to the mass amounts of traffic to and from your house thru the day. That right there is enough for a search warrent (and those statements didn't even come from law enforcement officials)
No, it isn't. As you say next:

if the police already suspected this
If. That's a pretty big if. The police would already have to suspect based on the observation of available evidence taken by sworn officers of the law, whether this is direct police surveillance (you don't need a warrant to park a patrol car on a public street) or by statements taken from sworn witnesses. Trust me. The police aren't going to be able to get a warrant based on unsworn statements given by a handful of nosy neighbors unless they already have some corroborating evidence.

Re:illegal? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071579)

Consider this, should a warrant be issued for search and seizure, and that search or seizure fails to lead to a prosecution, by logical definition would not that warrant be 'unreasonable' and the oath or affirmation used to obtain the warrant be defamation and bearing false witness.

The real reason for oversight is to place limits upon individuals who get carried away with the power given them and when that power is abused that a warrant be issued for their arrest and prosecution. By avoiding oversight they are simply establishing a system where they are above the law and no longer accountable for their actions, which often have political motivations.

I would think in terms of a constitution, secret warrants would be specifically mentioned in order to be allowed, as the logical basis for a warrant is that it is shown and and acknowledged by all affected parties.

Re:illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071431)

Its not illegal and I'm not surprised to see a loud-mouth Ron Paul supporter get the facts wrong. Yeah, America needs another Republican. *roll*

Re:illegal? (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070897)

Correct. If these were "Patriot Act" taps outside FISA, then the term 'illegal' *might* could be used, in quotes. A bit of sensationalizing that Taco let through. Still, a nice payday for Comcast.

Re:illegal? (1)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071009)

Still, a nice payday for Comcast.
I'm actually shocked that it's that cheap! Everything I've seen of government contracting would have led me to think that Comcast would charge $1000/foot for the coax + $350 an hour for the "trained monitoring engineers". If the FBI is really getting wiretaps for just $1000 a piece, I'll applaud them for their negotiating ability.

Re:illegal? (0)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071011)

eh not really. If the program it's self is illegal (which the FISA would certainly fall under since it violates the constitution) then you can still call these wiretaps illegal.

Re:illegal? (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071385)

FISA can be argued either way. Not giving a personal opinion here, but at least it *is* a court, of sorts, that a warrant is issued from (per 4th). It also seems to have passed some review. Searches under the Patriot Act without any warrant are considerably easier to argue as illegal or at least unconstitutional in any circumstance. Patriot Act searches aren't enjoying the same success in court as FISA searches.

Regardless of anyone's opinion of FISA, it is still vastly superior to warrentless searches being conducted under the guise of the Patriot Act.

Re:illegal? (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071031)

> 'illegal' *might* could be used

Illegal might? That sounds scary.

Re:illegal? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071435)

> 'illegal' *might* could be used

Illegal might? That sounds scary.


'Illegal' and 'unconstitutional' are not 100% interchangable, per se. That's the only point I was making. Just as civil and criminal violations are not always the same, but *can* be the same act under some circumstances.

Re:illegal? (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070903)

See, the secret illegal wiretaps don't even have to incur that FISA-approved tap charge. They just say "do it, or else" to the telco, and I bet the telco doesn't get to add a line item on the accounting ledger.

Re:illegal? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070953)

They just say "do it, or else" to the telco, and I bet the telco doesn't get to add a line item on the accounting ledger.

Without pay, I would bet the lag time would be long.. As a private company with a task to perform, the unpaid task would be bottom priority like most of their coustomer service requests.

There's no whore like an old whore ... (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071037)

> "Without pay, I would bet the lag time would be long.. As a private company with a task to perform, the unpaid task would be bottom priority like most of their coustomer service requests."

Always follow the money ...

Or in this case, "there's no whore like an old whore ..." (f*cking your customers for $1k + $750/m, like Comcast customers aren't already screwed enough ...)

Re:illegal? (0, Flamebait)

BigFoot48 (726201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071083)

Because the left-wing in American politics wants to use this forum to post their political hit pieces just like they do at Digg?

Re:illegal? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071211)

Why is it that right-wingers always claim it's a "political hit piece" when somebody states an objective fact.

Are you fuckers so deluded that you actually think you aren't just a bunch of murderous torture-loving fascists? Just admit that the only difference between you and the Nazis is that you did a quick s/Jew/Arab/ and you haven't built the ovens yet, and we'll call it a day, you awful, death-loving, Hell-bound jerk.

Re:illegal? (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071291)

You *almost* had a point there, before you descended into Godwin-scale name-calling.

The rest of us on the left would have been satisfied with the first sentence, it stands up on its own. Not everyone on the right is so crazy about what we're doing w/r/t foreign policy; in other words, lots of them aren't blindingly stupid, just have different views.

Re:illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071297)

ever heard of Bush derangement syndrome... for the picture of a person with the disease, just look in the mirror.

Legal! (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071283)

Right. FISA is lawful and arguably consitutional. The big question is how much Comcast charges for illegal wiretaps. (Maybe that's why Bush has been circumventing FISA, to save money!)

An hour later the "illegal" is removed (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071353)

It is now 9:35am and the title of the write-up has already been revised — without even the customary note to the effect — but the write-up itself still laments the "thrashing of the Fourth Amendment".

Apparently, there is nothing the Law Enforcement part of the government can do, that would be "legal" in the predominant opinion here.

All things considered, that's, probably, a good thing — even if incorrect or exaggerated...

Re:An hour later the "illegal" is removed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071541)

The "predominant opinion" in every story is dominated by the angry, the self-righteous, and the arrogant. These are the people most likely to derive pleasure from commenting, which is why you observe the distribution you do. In fact, a different pissy and egotistical subset of the Slashdot readership comment on every story (this is why self-selection fucks up sociology studies), leading everyone to the same negative conclusion about the "average" user here.

The comments tell you nothing about the average user, only the 0.01% who decide to click the Submit button.

Why should they do it for free? (1)

mrv00t (858087) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070761)

Why should they do it for free anyway? It's not like they are working for the government.

Well, hrm. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21070765)

On one hand, I find FISA absolutely disgusting and weep as our mighty country has fallen into tyranny and darkness.

On the other hand, I really hate Comcast even more now. They're allowed to charge for this? What the hell *is* that?

If I get pulled over by an officer for speeding, can I send his department a bill for the time of mine he used up while writing me a ticket?

Re:Well, hrm. (5, Informative)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070839)

On one hand, I find FISA absolutely disgusting and weep as our mighty country has fallen into tyranny and darkness.

FISA has been around since 1978 [wikipedia.org] . How long have you been lamenting the descent?

Re:Well, hrm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071983)

Not only that, but FISA was enacted to put a stop to wiretap abuses by the feds under the guise of "national security."

It's amazing to me that in 30 years it's gone from being a tool to reign in the government to being a bludgeon of tyranny and darkness. Or perhaps it hasn't changed all that much, it's just something else. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Well, hrm. (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070983)

If I get pulled over by an officer for speeding, can I send his department a bill for the time of mine he used up while writing me a ticket?

No, but you get to pay for the database they keep on your driving record and real time plate look-ups. (auto registration fees)

Re:Well, hrm. (4, Insightful)

syzler (748241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071053)

On the other hand, I really hate Comcast even more now. They're allowed to charge for this? What the hell *is* that?

Believe it or not, Comcast charging the government is in your best interest. This puts a price tag on frivolous subpoenas which discourages the government from issuing broad subpoenas. This also discourages subpoenas for multiple wiretaps to be maintained indefinitely (even law enforcement must work within a budget).

An ISP with which I am familiar often provides law enforcement with a quote of the cost to fullfill subpoenas they felt were too broad or would require a significant amount of man hours (Uhmm, CPU time) to produce the requested information. Almost invariably this resulted in law enforcement reducing the scope of the subpoena in question (I.E. information about less individuals was disclosed) or they completely rescinded the subpoena.

So whether you agree that Comcast should be able to make a small profit on wiretaps, they are providing an additional layer of checks and balances to our government.
 
Additionally, why should the Comcast subscribers foot the bill for a public service (Note that I am not a Comcast subscriber).

Re:Well, hrm. (-1, Troll)

saskboy (600063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071691)

Comcast must be rich.

(300,000,000 Americans * $1000 each) - ($1000 * White House Republicans) = Boatloads.

Re:Well, hrm. (1)

Mishra100 (841814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071765)

A better analogy would be jury duty. Jury duty is required of you by law but you still get paid for it. Only difference is that you can't charge a price.

Comcast isn't the one in violation of a crime or offense, they are just charging for having to put in wire taps. I understand what you are trying to say in that wire tapping is now legal and Comcast must adhere to that law but they have to pay for that inconvenience to the company.

Re:Well, hrm. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071867)

On the other hand, I really hate Comcast even more now. They're allowed to charge for this? What the hell *is* that?

I'm kind of comforted knowing that Comcast uses the same "gouging for a service that costs them almost nothing" tactic against people who want to spy on me, and that they don't just reserve that for their official customers ;-)

Re:Well, hrm. (2, Insightful)

HouseArrest420 (1105077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071911)

If I get pulled over by an officer for speeding, can I send his department a bill for the time of mine he used up while writing me a ticket?
Your example isn't even the same. Are you providing that cop a service? No. You were caught doing something wrong and were then pulled over. Only good criminals (pun intended) get paid for doing illegal things. Now say you owned a computer diagnostic shop, and an FBI agent came to you asking for you to check thru a computer for anything suspicious (this is hypothetical as the FBI doesn't need your help), then you could charge for your service's. The FBI would of course get an order for you to do it, but if you had enough money (IE if you were as large as comcast) you could afford to fight that, and win, and then receive compensation for your effort.

great (1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070773)

the tax payers will ultimately be the ones paying for this ... again.

just add on some more stuff, why don't they?

throw in a $20k toilet seat to while you're at it; the government doesn't care.

Offsets (1)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070781)

I'd have to hope that the costs of losing customers would cause a greater net loss to the companies than they could obtain in profits. I'm not sure how the American telcos operate or compete, over in the UK at least it's fairly easy to switch to another company for phone services.

Losing Customers? (2, Insightful)

yroJJory (559141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070893)

With all the crap we customers are putting up with (constant rate increases, lousy service, high prices, lack of privacy, ridiculous usage filtering [breitbart.com] ), the only way Comcrap is going to lose customers is if there is some sort of competition.

Currently, they have, essentially, a monopoly in most areas. In my neighborhood, DSL only became available recently and really only through SBC (hiding behind the AT&T name). The "service" is an 1/8th of the speed for barely any less monthly rate.

Believe me, if there was any way to get decent internet without paying Comcrap for it, I'd be doing it. And I'm sure a LOT of other folks would, too.

Re:Losing Customers? (1)

HouseArrest420 (1105077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072005)

Currently, they have, essentially, a monopoly in most areas. In my neighborhood, DSL only became available recently and really only through SBC (hiding behind the AT&T name). The "service" is an 1/8th of the speed for barely any less monthly rate. Believe me, if there was any way to get decent internet without paying Comcrap for it, I'd be doing it. And I'm sure a LOT of other folks would, too.
What your describing isn't a monopoly. A monopoly is when there ARE NO other alternatives. DSL being slower for the same price isn't a monopoly, nor is the fact they just became availabe (you can get dial up, and you can get DSL thru yahoo or other companies that provide it...of course you pay thru the nose for installation). Offering a superior (arguable) product for the same price your competition offers theirs...is marketing, not a monopoly. A monopoly would be like me killing every cow in the world besides my own so I can charge what I want for milk or beef. That is a monopoly. My monopoly would end the minute another cow was born/engineered in someone else's possession.

Plz ppl before we start throwing around the monopoly word with Comcast (or any other service provider) lets understand just what a monopoly is. If it were truely a monopoly you'd either have cable/phone/internet thru comcast, or you wouldn't have ANY service at all with no other options being availabe to you.

Re:Offsets (1)

computerman413 (1122419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070939)

Unfortunately, many American telcos have enjoyed monopolies in their market. However, in some areas (including mine), cable companies have started to offer competition. So switching isn't always an option.

Re:Offsets (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071001)

over in the UK at least it's fairly easy to switch to another company for phone services.
It depends on what you mean by switch, unless you go with virgin media and live in a cabled area your traffic will all be going through a BT openreach copper pair to your house. Also until recently almost all DSL was provided through BTs DSL backend network (this has now started to change with some of the bigger providers colocating thier own equipment in BT exchanges) which has a fee structure that made offering true unlimited service virtually impossible.

Escalating Prices (5, Funny)

Cryophallion (1129715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070797)

After announcing this, they notified the black market that it would be $2,000.00 a month to notify people being illegally tapped that they were being illegally tapped.

When confronted by the govt, they let them know that secrecy, much like their internet connection uptime, is in no way guaranteed under the current terms.

For guaranteed privacy, it is $5,000.00 per month. However, if they only listen on nights and weekends, the fee is slightly reduced.

Talk about creating shareholder value!

Re:Escalating Prices (1)

DanielJosphXhan (779185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070887)

I'm trying to figure out if you're funny or insightful.

See, companies have been turning surveillance (legal or illegal, they don't care) into big business for a long time now. Shouldn't the idea of selling wiretaps be repugnant? Yes. Legal or illegal, it should be repugnant.

And if they sell them to the government for money... well... there are lots of groups who'd pay for that.

Re:Escalating Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071489)

Nights and weekends are free on my T-Mobile family plan!

There's also an extra charge of $150 for each text message. That's why it's important to read the fine print.

Re:Escalating Prices (2, Funny)

davitf (522408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071659)

Comcast has also announced a revenue-sharing program in which participating customers will receive a percentage of the money earned through any wiretaps on their accounts. Unfortunately, unless the customer is also participating in the aforementioned notification program, they will only be informed of their earnings due to a particular wiretap after it has ended.

According to customers, there is too much uncertainty involved with the current conditions. "I can't invest two grand a month without any profit guarantee," said a potentially participating customer who asked not to be identified. "And how can I know if my government-attention-grabbing behavior is being effective if I'll only know about my successes months later? Comcast should realize that it is also in their best interest to inform participants quickly and help them improve their techniques".

Re:Escalating Prices (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071711)

You know, I bet in other countries the government charges the.. oh bugger it, I'll just say it. Here in the free west, companies charge for wiretap. IN SOVIET RUSSIA, WIRETAP CHARGES YOU!!

So Much For Free.... (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070801)

voip telephony. Looks like the $400 a year cell phone bill is here to stay... DAMN IT I DON'T EVEN LIVE IN THE U.S.!

Re:So Much For Free.... (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070923)

voip telephony. Looks like the $400 a year cell phone bill is here to stay... DAMN IT I DON'T EVEN LIVE IN THE U.S.!

Download and read the book. This applies to just the VOIP that Comcast provides in it's triple play package. If you use a third party VOIP solution, it is outside the scope of the offer. If you think you are protected by using a cell phone...
It is time to look at what the government contractors are selling to your government.
http://www.antennasystems.com/trapandtrace.html [antennasystems.com]
This device works without even notifying the cell company, unlike a wired trap and trace. No court order needed unless you want to either be legal or use the evidence in court.

Cell phones are less secure than wired connections. Get used to it. It's a sniffable radio signal. You don't have to get permission to connect to the airwaves... (legaly maybe, but not technicaly)

Re:So Much For Free.... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071017)

Of course good old fassioned copper phone lines are really insecure, anyone can climb up a telephone pole, open up the junction box and add a tap cable.

Re:So Much For Free.... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071191)

Over the internet, you can encrypt your communications. Safety falls in your court.
Cell phone communications are a standard protocol. If you can crack one cell phone, you can crack them all.

Re:So Much For Free.... (2, Insightful)

mosch (204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071133)

$400/year cell phone bill? Sounds like a great deal!

Well, hell, if it's just a matter of cash... (2, Funny)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070805)

I've got a short list of people for whom I'd cheerfully pay $1000 to get a wiretap transcript on. Let's see, Dick Cheney, Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas...

Bargain Price! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21070807)

Uncle sam is watching you.....for a price (300,000,000 x 1,000). I wonder if there is a bulk order discount.

Re:Bargain Price! (1)

SurryMt (773354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071405)

But not all 300M are Comcast customers -- yet....

I'm more impressed with Qwest in this case (3, Interesting)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070819)

...because they resisted the NSA [wired.com] .

irony (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070827)

Eventually the taxpayer pays for his own wiretapping. Oh the irony. Nothing new though, the taxpayers pays for tax collection & enforcement, cute but sad.

Re:irony (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070987)

Eventually the taxpayer pays for his own wiretapping. Oh the irony.

      He pays for his own incarceration, too. Perhaps you'd like this essay [gutenberg.org] by Henry David Thoreau...

You cant put a price... (4, Funny)

TechnoBunny (991156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070829)

...on catching terrorismists!

Article title is 100% WRONG! (4, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070833)

That is the price for a legal, court ordered wiretap.

Re:Article title is 100% WRONG! (2, Informative)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070863)

The article isn't wrong, in fact, the only place where the words ILLEGAL appear seem to be in the Slashdot headline. The article talks about FISA approved wiretappings.

Re:Article title is 100% WRONG! (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071119)

Shhhhhhhhh. Let the nutcases have their field day. It's fun to read the outraged opinions of all these people. Lets me know who I don't have to take seriously.

Re:Article title is 100% WRONG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071165)

Yeah. For an illegal one, it's... OVER 9000!!

FISA Wiretaps are *not* illegal. (5, Informative)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070841)

If it truly a FISA wiretap, than the authorities obtained a warrant from a judge. What Bush does with warrantless wiretaps are *not* FISA wiretaps because no warrants are involved.

Now, if you want to debate the Constitutionality of a FISA wiretap, that is a valid discussion, but the story does not even contain the word illegal anywhere. Read your own frakking article, and try to keep your story truthful.

Which is it? (1)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070843)

The article's title and the blurb conflict. FISA is a law that provides a framework for issuing wiretap orders on the down-low. Wiretap orders obtained under the FISA law's requirements are, uh, obtained lawfully (although I do not like the law, it still *is* a law). Are these illegal wiretaps or not?

Re:Which is it? (1)

ChetOS.net (936869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070977)

No, this is not about illegal wiretaps. The summary is wrong.

Troll headlines (1)

packetmon (977047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070849)

Irrespective of someone's personal beliefs, the government did pass this Orweillian law like it or not. So legally they're not "illegal wiretaps". With that said even the article specifies this: Upon lawful request and for a thousand dollars, Comcast, Don't be fooled though, for anyone who hasn't worked at an ISP, prior to implementing CALEA crap, any wiretap costs a company money. What do you think the feds are going to say "we need X tapped" and resources would automagically appear to configure parameters. So for the trolls overhyping this issue with crafty headlines, get a clue and RTFA

Pinto? (2, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070851)

So this is like when Ford decided that if each Pinto that exploded cost them less than 11 million USD in lawsuits, it was still worth producing the cars?

Re:Pinto? (4, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070917)

JACK: Take the number of vehicles in the field (A), multiply it by the probable rate of failure (B), then multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement (C). A times B times C equals X... If X is less that the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

BUSINESS WOMAN: Are there a lot of these kinds of accident?

JACK: You wouldn't believe.

Dear shadow government... (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070881)

If you would like to tap my internet and phones, I can cut out the middle man and give you what you need for a one-time setup cost of $600, and the low low price of $450 per month.

(Now, if the monitoring program is secret, what can the IRS do if I don't report that income?)

Re:Dear shadow government... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070955)

I'll meet his $450 a month and I'll even guarantee a porn sound-track at least one night a week. Please wiretap me!

Re:Dear shadow government... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071909)

Remember, the government has to want to tap your lines, first. Here, let me help you:

If you would like to bomb tap my internet and phones Osama, I can cut out the terrorist middle man and give you president what you need mobile nukes for a one-time setup cost of bio-chemical warfare $600, and the low low price of oil $450 per oil month oil.

Maybe not so profitable (3, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070891)

They are dealing with the Federal government. It may cost $990 to do the papaerwork.

Many of you seem to be missing the point (1)

Enry (630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070945)

Wait, forget the fact that FISA does allow the government to wiretap individuals legally following certain guidelines.

Isn't the bigger problem the fact that this happens apparently so often that Comcast has a pricing structure for it? I mean, if it happened irregularly, Comcast would probably eat the cost as part of being a good citizen.

Re:Many of you seem to be missing the point (2, Informative)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071027)

No. Comcast incurs costs for aiding investigations, therefore they need to recover those costs somehow. You can't expect them to just bite the bullet on the overhead of maintaining the systems needed to wiretap someone's internet connection or VOIP phone, dealing with the FBI, etc etc. It doesn't seem to me that Comcast is significantly altering their bottom line by charging a pittance $1000 for this, seems more like a cost of implementing and maintaining.

It's common practice for organizations to estimate the cost of an investigation post-facto in order to bill back the government. Comcast probably has a certain large percentage of such investigations that they figured it would easier to define an up front cost estimate other than generating that post-facto cost analysis.

Going, going... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070961)

Well, if they're going to flush your civil rights down the toilet, at least somebody can make a few bucks off 'em as they go. I think it was Nikita Khrushchev who said an American was somebody who would sell you the rope you were going to hang him with.

Damn! The Constitution was such a magnificent document, too.

Re:Going, going... (2, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071107)

No one has yet given legitimate reason as to why FISA-court ordered wiretaps are unconstitutional.

Doesn't surprise me really (1)

simong (32944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21070979)

If Comcast are as process driven as BT [bt.com] , they will have a cost for every line item that's been repeated more than twice, and let's not fool ourselves here, they've done it more than that.

Profit! (3, Funny)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071051)

Modeled after all those movies on clandestine, stalker boyfriend movies... the illegal wiretap must be done as follows:

1. Buy a white utility van. Buy a blue -not black- uniform so no one can see you under the streetlight. Your company name should have pizza or florist in it.
2. Climb utility pole. Connect phone line to your headphones. Its not more technical than this. Now you hear all the phone conversations.
3. ????
4. Profit!!!

Old News (1)

Brix Braxton (676594) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071063)

The document was posted on Slashdot last week, or longer. It was a document outlining Comcast policy towards requests for user information. The fees were further down in the document - sounds standard to me. They have to post it somewhere, they can't just say "um...hmm, well, how 'bout $750 and we'll do it for you".

Scary accounting (5, Interesting)

Loosifur (954968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071135)

Best line from the article:

"I was actually surprised that this was such a routine transaction that it would have a set fee," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

Two things that I find strange. First, take this out of the context of FISA. If a state prosecutor, say, subpoenas records from a private business, do they routinely pay said business for the processing? Generally speaking, it seems that when a court orders something, you don't get paid for the time or effort. Even if you hire a lawyer to handle the subpoena process you don't get reimbursed for that. Maybe someone with some inside knowledge can fill me in here, but wouldn't you have to file a petition to have any processing costs refunded?

Second thing that's a little quirky, why is there a maintenance fee? Why is there an initial cost? I wouldn't think that it's Comcast's own techs doing the surveillance. After all, when phone lines are tapped Verizon guys don't do the tapping. Is it to compensate for lost bandwidth? Doesn't seem likely. Again, if someone knows better, please fill me in, but it seems a bit strange that Comcast is able to charge money to allow the government to perform court-ordered surveillance.

Re:Scary accounting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21071841)

Exactly. What happens if the government refused to pay? Would comcast just say, we don't have to do what the court says, screw you?
If there is a court order, I though that you had no choice but to comply or be held in contempt of court (or something like that).

I'm upset about FISA too (1)

Brian Stretch (5304) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071227)

Having anonymous unelected judges meeting in secret, passing secret rulings that rewrite foreign-intelligence law is scary. Congress should have never removed responsibility from our elected representatives by creating FISA. Somehow I don't think that's what the OP had in mind though.

End the Stealth Government [nationalreview.com]

Well thats ..... (2, Funny)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071433)

Commie-castic !!

There a discount package on illegal wire tapping if you sign up for the Big Brother Deluxe Program

Probably the highest paid law enforcement agency (2, Funny)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071465)

The phone companies must love criminals then, this is probably ~10 months or so bills per month, nice. That is why I mention Al Queda and Jihad in every phone call, I want to run up the FBI/NSA bill :)

I don't know what scares me more . . . (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071703)

. . . that these wiretaps exist, or that they happen so often there's a rate sheet for them.

Do I have a deal for them.... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071845)

Hey, Comcast, here's the deal. You give me the highest tier of Triple Play and all the premium channels for free, and I'll keep sprinkling "Osama Bin Laden", "Echelon", "terrorism", and other keywords into my Internet usage to keep the Feds interested. I won't even ask for a cut of what's left of the $750.

I mean seriously, if the Feds are going to listen anyway <cough>AT&T</cough> I might as well get something out of it.

You're GOT to be kidding.... (2, Funny)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071925)

Well, shit. For $1,000 I'd tap my own line!

Quite reasonable; wiretapping harder than it looks (4, Informative)

OSPolicy (1154923) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071969)

Page 58 of http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/reports/FBI/a0613/final.pdf [usdoj.gov] shows that $1K is pretty reasonable, depending on the type of wiretap. On page 56 of the report, it notes that $250 is typical for easy taps. However, the table on page 58 shows that $2200 is a lot more in line with certain types. Wiretapping is harder than it looks. The telecomm provider is typically responsible for making sure that the law enforcement agency (LEA) gets exactly what it is supposed to get, neither more nor less. They have to provide 24/7 support. In some cases, the LEA tries to prevent them from doing routine maintenance because doing things like rebooting switches drops taps. Depending on the particular type of tap, they're working for their $1000.

Cut out the middleman! (1)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21071993)

I'll allow the government to monitor my cable line (internet, TV and voice) at a significant savings: order now at the low low rate of $695/month for the first 12 months, and we'll waive the $1000 setup fee! At prices like this, can you afford NOT to eavesdrop?!?
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