May 15, 2006 3:16 PM PDT

Verizon sued for alleged NSA cooperation

Verizon Communications is the latest big phone company to be sued for allegedly violating privacy laws by handing over phone records to the National Security Agency for a secretive government surveillance program.

On Friday, two attorneys from New Jersey--Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer--filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan, where Verizon is located. Afran said Monday that AT&T and BellSouth, which is in the process of being acquired by AT&T, may also be added to the suit.

The NSA has been building a database of millions of Americans' telephone calls since shortly after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, according to an article that appeared last week in USA Today. Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth supposedly complied with government officials, while Qwest did not, the article stated.

The lawsuit filed Friday claims that Verizon violated federal laws and the First and Fourth Amendments by turning over the records to the government. Specifically, Verizon is being sued for allegedly violating the Communications Act of 1934, the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act and the 1986 Stored Communications Act. Each of these federal statutes limits how much information phone companies can reveal without a customer's consent, or without a search warrant or subpoena.

"Federal law prohibits the phone companies from giving records to the government without a warrant," said Afran, who is an attorney in private practice and also a professor of law at Rutgers University. "There was no warrant, nor was there any attempt to get warrants, which is in violation of the constitution and the Telecommunications Act."

Verizon could be fined $1,000 for each violation of the Telecommunications Act, Afran said. If the case is certified as a class action, damages could reach $50 billion, he said.

Verizon has not confirmed or denied participation in the highly classified NSA program. But it did issue a statement on Friday.

"Verizon puts the interests of our customers first and has a longstanding commitment to vigorously safeguard our customers' privacy," the company said. "Verizon will provide customer information to a government agency only where authorized by law for appropriately defined and focused purposes. Verizon does not, and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition."

AT&T is already being sued over similar allegations that it has passed along private customer information to the NSA. In January, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for privacy rights on the Internet, filed suit against AT&T in a federal district court in San Francisco for also handing over customer data to the NSA.

On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit against AT&T. The government claims that its legal brief and two affidavits from senior intelligence officials that accompanied the motion are classified, preventing even the parties to the lawsuit, EFF and AT&T, from seeing them.

Attorneys for the EFF have vowed to continue with the lawsuit.

"We don't think our lawsuit will compromise national security," said EFF staff attorney Kevin Bankston. "And we dismiss vigorously any claims by the government that it does. AT&T is breaking federal and state statues by giving private customer information to the NSA."

The EFF is looking for the court to impose an injunction on AT&T so that it stops sharing customer information with the NSA, and it is also asking for $1,000 in damages to be paid to all residential AT&T customers both of its phone service and Internet services, Bankston said.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to determine whether evidence that EFF claims to have against AT&T can be unsealed. AT&T claims certain documents should not be unsealed because they compromise the company's trade secrets.

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trashing the constitution again
It should come as no great surprise that this latest attempt to destroy personal privacy comes to us from the same group that has given this nation treasonous financial support of the Nazi party during WWII, several wars for republican profit, asassinations of our elected and social leaders, majic bullets and coverup commissions, voodoo economics that sent the national debt farther into space than JFK sent astronauts, and has been caught red handed doing the B&E of Elsberg's office and the DNC offices at the Watergate hotel, not to mention dealing cocaine to our own kids to finance an illegal war against the contras. If we are so stupid that we let these criminals run the country is it any wonder we no longer have the respect of the worlds people. The current incarnation of the religous right wing has placed our personal security in danger of complete destruction and they are openly in partnership with those who attack and kill us. The time to fight for our nation is now or never and we MUST all support those who are unafraid to take those with something to hide, to task in our name. Our "leaders" are afraid we are about to expose the back room deals and they are displaying the parinoia of the guilty as charged. The issue is, are we going to cower in fear as they spy on us and deal with the enemies of state, or are we going to put our country's survival ahead of our personal fears?
Posted by anOPINIONATEDsob (160 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For the people-not a faction group
Dear A Opinioned Snob,


What you wrote is -as you know- true. Sadly, so many will be scared, look the other way, or deny the ugly truths because of loyalty to one political party or other.

So, here are some of my thoughts&&&&.

How can so many not see the corruption of our own govt. is far too deep, gone on too long and they are for their personal gains.

We must start banding together and demand for the people and by the people laws, honesty, and demand our freedoms be held with respect. This garbage of reasons one party or the other passes out to the American people is more than ludicrous at times.
Oh, and the pass the blame, pass the buck and not fix the problem game has gotten old too in pertaining to the people who work for us- our government who passes the blame, gets paid, fixes nothing much at the end of the day, then goes home and pays golf together.

One tiny case or cases in point :
Our govt. said we had to have this illegal invasion of privacy and keep this method in effect for OUR safety. Yet, years later have NOT secured our borders and are letting ILLEGAL people and their supporters protest the securing of said border(s) for it would hinder them coming in ILLEGALLY , left airplane luggage areas on planes vulnerable for tampering, and took forever to stop thinking of plans and take our ports seriously by attempting to hire Egyptian security. Started a war soon after our terrible invasion and called it Operation Freedom to give Iraqis freedom from a dictator, who was on GWBs personal hate list from threatening to kill his  daddy, to make our lives better and work on stealing our feedoms. Spent money like a kid in a candy shop using credit cards on this war, which was based on invading a country thousands of years old and ruled by religion, and try to tell these people to quickly change from religion ruling their lives to a democracy being more important. Found out this was not going to be a quick and simple task after- the- fact.
Our politicians spent lots of time getting paid blaming all -everyting-on the OTHER political party as in 'its not our fault it is theirs', and some Americans are stupid enough to care more about political affiliation than about America itself.

OK, enough said, but each time I speak about our govt. to another American on the telephone where something negative might come out of my end of the conversation, and the other person says,  Oh my, you better be careful the government is listening!, I say,  Good!, and then I give the government an earful. They would love to scare us into thinking they will come take us away for speaking out. To hope to find a way to brand us as security risks, concoct a lie on us and take us away from opposing the illegal things they do, etc.

I tell you, there are still many of us, who can think outside of what party is to blame( they both are), think outside of whose political party am I on, are not the got to be in a faction group or else type and go along with whatever it does, who want,  for the people, by the people, liberty and justice for all and we are not going quietly.


In closing to you AOS, enjoyed your post.


Mr. and Mrs. Politician,
Please stop spying on us Americans. It is so you can know what we are doing-about money not safety. I have nothing to hide from you and my conversations are boring, but they are none of your business. You see you abuse power too easily to let YOU have a continuing option of taking our freedoms. You cannot be trusted.

Let the police have more money to track the child perverts online and get out of my computer; I monitor my own computer for pervert invasion.

Go secure our borders.

Kick the illegal people out of OUR country. Arrest them when they band in OUR streets proclaiming how they have rights and will take over our country one day. Stop letting them take OUR anthem and change its words to voice their victory in our county-singing it while they march. .

Worry about us for a change we Americans-put us first. Stop taking pay offs from the oil companies or donations of any type that buy you before you get in office, so that no matter what many Americans would like it will be futile, for the rich business people bought you.

Many of us know our government did back the drug trade to pay for a war in the 80s, so stay out of organized crime or hire it to secure our borders.

Live off of your paychecks and not money from vote buyers.

Leave our freedoms alone!

Now add that to your file on me.

p.s. when you add this to a file-pass this on to Allen( he is still alive right?).
Allen Greenspan,
Just before you retired you told the American people there had been no inflation.
Were you intending this remark for Kindergarten kids and it accidentally made the headline news?
Posted by Page S (7 comments )
Link Flag
bleah
The democrats are no better than the republicans. And the back biting has gone far far beyond reasonable. Quit #!$!^%!@$%^ blaming and fighting each other and start working for the american people!
Posted by drfrost (467 comments )
Link Flag
trashing the constitution again
It should come as no great surprise that this latest attempt to destroy personal privacy comes to us from the same group that has given this nation treasonous financial support of the Nazi party during WWII, several wars for republican profit, asassinations of our elected and social leaders, majic bullets and coverup commissions, voodoo economics that sent the national debt farther into space than JFK sent astronauts, and has been caught red handed doing the B&E of Elsberg's office and the DNC offices at the Watergate hotel, not to mention dealing cocaine to our own kids to finance an illegal war against the contras. If we are so stupid that we let these criminals run the country is it any wonder we no longer have the respect of the worlds people. The current incarnation of the religous right wing has placed our personal security in danger of complete destruction and they are openly in partnership with those who attack and kill us. The time to fight for our nation is now or never and we MUST all support those who are unafraid to take those with something to hide, to task in our name. Our "leaders" are afraid we are about to expose the back room deals and they are displaying the parinoia of the guilty as charged. The issue is, are we going to cower in fear as they spy on us and deal with the enemies of state, or are we going to put our country's survival ahead of our personal fears?
Posted by anOPINIONATEDsob (160 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For the people-not a faction group
Dear A Opinioned Snob,


What you wrote is -as you know- true. Sadly, so many will be scared, look the other way, or deny the ugly truths because of loyalty to one political party or other.

So, here are some of my thoughts&&&&.

How can so many not see the corruption of our own govt. is far too deep, gone on too long and they are for their personal gains.

We must start banding together and demand for the people and by the people laws, honesty, and demand our freedoms be held with respect. This garbage of reasons one party or the other passes out to the American people is more than ludicrous at times.
Oh, and the pass the blame, pass the buck and not fix the problem game has gotten old too in pertaining to the people who work for us- our government who passes the blame, gets paid, fixes nothing much at the end of the day, then goes home and pays golf together.

One tiny case or cases in point :
Our govt. said we had to have this illegal invasion of privacy and keep this method in effect for OUR safety. Yet, years later have NOT secured our borders and are letting ILLEGAL people and their supporters protest the securing of said border(s) for it would hinder them coming in ILLEGALLY , left airplane luggage areas on planes vulnerable for tampering, and took forever to stop thinking of plans and take our ports seriously by attempting to hire Egyptian security. Started a war soon after our terrible invasion and called it Operation Freedom to give Iraqis freedom from a dictator, who was on GWBs personal hate list from threatening to kill his  daddy, to make our lives better and work on stealing our feedoms. Spent money like a kid in a candy shop using credit cards on this war, which was based on invading a country thousands of years old and ruled by religion, and try to tell these people to quickly change from religion ruling their lives to a democracy being more important. Found out this was not going to be a quick and simple task after- the- fact.
Our politicians spent lots of time getting paid blaming all -everyting-on the OTHER political party as in 'its not our fault it is theirs', and some Americans are stupid enough to care more about political affiliation than about America itself.

OK, enough said, but each time I speak about our govt. to another American on the telephone where something negative might come out of my end of the conversation, and the other person says,  Oh my, you better be careful the government is listening!, I say,  Good!, and then I give the government an earful. They would love to scare us into thinking they will come take us away for speaking out. To hope to find a way to brand us as security risks, concoct a lie on us and take us away from opposing the illegal things they do, etc.

I tell you, there are still many of us, who can think outside of what party is to blame( they both are), think outside of whose political party am I on, are not the got to be in a faction group or else type and go along with whatever it does, who want,  for the people, by the people, liberty and justice for all and we are not going quietly.


In closing to you AOS, enjoyed your post.


Mr. and Mrs. Politician,
Please stop spying on us Americans. It is so you can know what we are doing-about money not safety. I have nothing to hide from you and my conversations are boring, but they are none of your business. You see you abuse power too easily to let YOU have a continuing option of taking our freedoms. You cannot be trusted.

Let the police have more money to track the child perverts online and get out of my computer; I monitor my own computer for pervert invasion.

Go secure our borders.

Kick the illegal people out of OUR country. Arrest them when they band in OUR streets proclaiming how they have rights and will take over our country one day. Stop letting them take OUR anthem and change its words to voice their victory in our county-singing it while they march. .

Worry about us for a change we Americans-put us first. Stop taking pay offs from the oil companies or donations of any type that buy you before you get in office, so that no matter what many Americans would like it will be futile, for the rich business people bought you.

Many of us know our government did back the drug trade to pay for a war in the 80s, so stay out of organized crime or hire it to secure our borders.

Live off of your paychecks and not money from vote buyers.

Leave our freedoms alone!

Now add that to your file on me.

p.s. when you add this to a file-pass this on to Allen( he is still alive right?).
Allen Greenspan,
Just before you retired you told the American people there had been no inflation.
Were you intending this remark for Kindergarten kids and it accidentally made the headline news?
Posted by Page S (7 comments )
Link Flag
bleah
The democrats are no better than the republicans. And the back biting has gone far far beyond reasonable. Quit #!$!^%!@$%^ blaming and fighting each other and start working for the american people!
Posted by drfrost (467 comments )
Link Flag
There already is a list
Didn't anyone pay attention to the movie "Enemy of the State" (which was way ahead of its time)
Government agencies already have master lists of everything, just like they have monitored all forms of communication.
This suit is not going to solve anything; I bet these laywers are just out of law school and trying to drum up business.
Posted by jhathorn (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There already is a list
Didn't anyone pay attention to the movie "Enemy of the State" (which was way ahead of its time)
Government agencies already have master lists of everything, just like they have monitored all forms of communication.
This suit is not going to solve anything; I bet these laywers are just out of law school and trying to drum up business.
Posted by jhathorn (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nice Contingency Fee
A 25% contingency fee on a $50 billion lawsuit will allow the lawyers to vacation in the Hamptons instead of Bay Head. But seriously, what does this whole story say about the NSA? That they were incompetant enough not to be able to do their own snooping without asking Daddy for the backdoor key. That Menwith Hill is a fantasy. That they were incapable of terminating with extreme prejudice those with loose lips. I say, we the taxpayers should rise up and demand that we get a refund because clearly the NSA is just a money pit with nothing to show for it. Their GS 13 bureacrats probably spend all day long watching video porn intercepted from the Playboy channel. Just another example of government "not at work".
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nice Contingency Fee
A 25% contingency fee on a $50 billion lawsuit will allow the lawyers to vacation in the Hamptons instead of Bay Head. But seriously, what does this whole story say about the NSA? That they were incompetant enough not to be able to do their own snooping without asking Daddy for the backdoor key. That Menwith Hill is a fantasy. That they were incapable of terminating with extreme prejudice those with loose lips. I say, we the taxpayers should rise up and demand that we get a refund because clearly the NSA is just a money pit with nothing to show for it. Their GS 13 bureacrats probably spend all day long watching video porn intercepted from the Playboy channel. Just another example of government "not at work".
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i believe we've been warned about this...
it was published in 1949 and was written by george orwell.

what was the name of that book???
Posted by saturnine01 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i believe we've been warned about this...
it was published in 1949 and was written by george orwell.

what was the name of that book???
Posted by saturnine01 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NSA probably trace-captured them directly
My guess is that the big three telephone companies (telco's) will
be able to honestly say that they didn't turn over their records
directly to the NSA (or to a third-party for the NSA to get),
although there is a way that it could have been done legally (at
least legally on the part the phone companies, if not on the part
of the government).
Far more likely is that the gov't got permission to install gov't
owned/operated equipment inline or parallel to existing Telco
backbone, possibly even paying to rent or build the facility space
to do so. This would mean the NSA could capture the data
directly, rather than taking copies from the databases of the
telco's, and have unfettered access to all that flows through the
pipes without restriction.
Furthermore, when the NSA says they only store call transaction
data, odds are that in 99.97% of the cases they are telling the
absolute truth -- for purely technical reasons (because the
actual storage space required to warehouse the entirety of all
the conversations in any audio format would be so
overwhelming as to probably deplete the commercial market of
storage media for quite some time). The down side to this is that
storage capacity densitites always increase and costs for storage
decrease, so it may only be a matter of time before it becomes
cost-feasible to store everything and not just the call transaction
logs.
It seems to be fairly well known (partially from information leaks
by seal teams) that the NSA has already tapped all the serious
off-shore data lines headed out of the USA; with this new (not-
so-new) twist, they would have access to everything including
what goes off-shore, without the need to splice or tap
underwater... possibly because there are only one or two subs
capable of the task in the Navy arsenal and they may have been
tasked to other duties (war anyone?) and/or because there are
more data pipes being laid than they can actively cover.

Well, that's just my illiterate analysis of what is likely to be the
truth behind the smoke and mirrors. The real questions are:
Who outside the NSA has access to the information (I'm talking
business cronies of Cheney & Bush, not just FBI anti-terrorism
division, CIA and the NSA);
What it's costing the tax payers for this whole access, storage,
analysis, staffing, etc to support the database (oddly enough "Al
Queda" also means "database" transliterated); and
How sucessful has the capture been in terms of actual results
that have made a difference in the active security of the US?

=-= The CyberPoet
Posted by cyberpoet (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NSA probably trace-captured them directly
My guess is that the big three telephone companies (telco's) will
be able to honestly say that they didn't turn over their records
directly to the NSA (or to a third-party for the NSA to get),
although there is a way that it could have been done legally (at
least legally on the part the phone companies, if not on the part
of the government).
Far more likely is that the gov't got permission to install gov't
owned/operated equipment inline or parallel to existing Telco
backbone, possibly even paying to rent or build the facility space
to do so. This would mean the NSA could capture the data
directly, rather than taking copies from the databases of the
telco's, and have unfettered access to all that flows through the
pipes without restriction.
Furthermore, when the NSA says they only store call transaction
data, odds are that in 99.97% of the cases they are telling the
absolute truth -- for purely technical reasons (because the
actual storage space required to warehouse the entirety of all
the conversations in any audio format would be so
overwhelming as to probably deplete the commercial market of
storage media for quite some time). The down side to this is that
storage capacity densitites always increase and costs for storage
decrease, so it may only be a matter of time before it becomes
cost-feasible to store everything and not just the call transaction
logs.
It seems to be fairly well known (partially from information leaks
by seal teams) that the NSA has already tapped all the serious
off-shore data lines headed out of the USA; with this new (not-
so-new) twist, they would have access to everything including
what goes off-shore, without the need to splice or tap
underwater... possibly because there are only one or two subs
capable of the task in the Navy arsenal and they may have been
tasked to other duties (war anyone?) and/or because there are
more data pipes being laid than they can actively cover.

Well, that's just my illiterate analysis of what is likely to be the
truth behind the smoke and mirrors. The real questions are:
Who outside the NSA has access to the information (I'm talking
business cronies of Cheney & Bush, not just FBI anti-terrorism
division, CIA and the NSA);
What it's costing the tax payers for this whole access, storage,
analysis, staffing, etc to support the database (oddly enough "Al
Queda" also means "database" transliterated); and
How sucessful has the capture been in terms of actual results
that have made a difference in the active security of the US?

=-= The CyberPoet
Posted by cyberpoet (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can people join in on this lawsuit?
Posted by billygg25 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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