Does AT&T hate consumers?

(via boingboing)

I just can’t get away from that style of headline. Sensationalism makes for catchier headlines, I guess.

This article at Wired talks about a secret data collection/siphon room AT&T uses in San Francisco (and purportedly other sites) to get traffic so the NSA can eavesdrop on America citizens.

AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit that allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a massive internet wiretap operation in its San Francisco facilities.

In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn’t be used as evidence in the case and should be returned.

The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers.

I keep ranting about this horrible violation of our civil rights, because I still believe that a President violating a law established in 1978 specifically to limit the government’s spying on Americans matters. I have nothing to hide. I lose nothing tangible if I am spied on without a warrant. But losing freedom matters to me. I don’t do a good job working to protect my freedom, but when I can say something against an illegal removal of my freedoms, I feel I have to tell others. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) starts with:

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and
if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

The really important part there is part (B) specifically limiting warrentless eavesdropping when it would intercept communications involving an American citizen. President Lyndon B Johnson and President Nixon got in trouble for eavesdropping on US citizens, and these violations of citizens’ rights were part of the motivators for FISA.

Why are so many people suddenly willing to let the government illegaly eavesdrop on us again? It wasn’t OK when President Clinton broke the law by lying under oath. It certainly shouldn’t be OK for President Bush to break the law by illegally eavesdropping on Americans, no matter how good *HE* thinks it is for the country and no matter who is on the other end. If he wants to do that, he needs to work on getting the law changed, not just ignoring it.

And companies need to quit helping our government break the law.  To bring this back to the original topic – shame on AT&T for feeding the NSA this traffic.

[tags]President above the law, Citizen’s Right violations[/tags]