Congress Asks AT&T, Verizon, And Qwest About Warrantless Wiretapping

Qwest, Verizon, and AT&T have until October 12th to provide information on how the government went about asking for private customer records, and how the three companies provided the information. The Committee on Energy and Commerce opened an official investigation Tuesday. “If reports about the government surveillance program are accurate, Congress has a duty to inquire about whether such a program violates the Constitution, as well as consumer protection and privacy laws,” said committee chairman Rep. John Dingell.

The committee also sent letters to the EFF and other privacy advocacy groups, soliciting their opinions on the matter. In the official announcement, committee member Rep. Ed Markey is quoted,

“As reports about government intelligence agencies running roughshod over telecommunications privacy laws continue to surface, I have grown more and more concerned that the rights of consumers are being lost in the shuffle. Protecting the homeland is vital, but such efforts should not undermine the essential privacy rights of American citizens. Since the Bush Administration has been unwilling to discuss adequately this situation, I hope these telecommunications companies will be more forthcoming about the circumstances in which they have disclosed consumer information.”

The three companies have also been requested to provide information on whether or not the government attempted to install any equipment to intercept data, or whether any subpoenas were presented authorizing such equipment.

“AT&T and others asked about government access” [Reuters]

RELATED
“Committee Opens Investigation into Warrantless Wiretapping”
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. hypnotik_jello says:

    Please, for the love of god, use a spell checker before posting!

  2. Maybe I should stop drinking when I write these things. (Thanks, Ben, for correcting the typo so quickly.)

  3. liquisoft says:

    It’s absolutely hilarious and disturbing that one branch of our government tells these companies that they need to provide them with the ability to wiretap people, and then another branch gathers up those same companies and questions them as to how and why they did this.

    Why doesn’t one branch just beat up the other branch?

  4. Maurs says:

    Checks and balances at work, I suppose.

  5. huadpe says:

    @liquisoft: “Why doesn’t one branch just beat up the other branch?” That would be called a veto override.

  6. rmz says:

    “If reports about the government surveillance program are accurate, Congress has a duty to inquire about whether such a program violates the Constitution, as well as consumer protection and privacy laws,” said committee chairman Rep. John Dingell.

    The Constitution and consumer protection and privacy laws are antiquated concepts that have no place in a modern-day totalitaria—I mean, democracy.

  7. MikeHerbst says:

    liquisoft:
    Why doesn’t one branch just beat up the other branch?

    As I understand it, congress has attempted to the the executive branch to answer questions on this matter, and the executive has flatly refused.

    I’m guessing asking the other parties involved (who can’t claim “executive privilege”) is a way to try to get some answers.

    Personally, I’m all for this.

    I want my 4th amendment back.

  8. JiminyChristmas says:

    Wait, you mean this isn’t all covered in the Qwest Privacy Policy?

    I swear I got a copy of that with my phone bill awhile ago. It didn’t say anything about letting the NSA set up shop at their place.

  9. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    We should sue. Nationwide class-action lawsuit. I wonder how big the damages would be for a class of 200 million people.

  10. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Why doesn’t congress subpoena them in federal court, and when they refuse, get them for contempt?

  11. neost says:

    Check CALEA. Every telco has equipment installed to allow the government to tap lines quickly and easily. Doesn’t matter if its wireline or wireless. Remote access is setup for law enforcement agencies. I’m not certain there are any checks on someone using that equipment without authorization.

  12. ninjatales says:

    OMG Quest also? We got rid of AT&T and switched to QUEST because of this wiretapping scandal.

  13. burgundyyears says:

    @ninjatales: ??? You can’t really switch between AT&T and Qwest (unless you moved…) They’re both ILECs with exclusive geographic areas they serve.

  14. Eludium-Q36 says:

    Notably missing: Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile. Guess my Sprint peeps didn’t cave to the Feds, nice. Dem boyz got my back!

  15. consumerd says:

    @ninjatales:

    No they are just questioning them, that doesn’t mean they participated. If they have no data they have nothing to worry about.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    Rep. Ed Markey should just read WIRED.