This morning, USA Today reported that three telecommunications companies Â AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth Â provided Âphone call records of tens of millions of AmericansÂ to the National Security Agency. Such conduct appears to be illegal and could make the telco firms liable for tens of billions of dollars.
This activity violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customerÂs consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by Âadministrative subpoena.Â The first four clearly donÂt apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer Â the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.
What are we defending if it isn’t our way of life? Wasn't the conservative movement founded on smaller, less intrusive government?
I eagerly await wing-nut explanations for why this isn’t a violation of the very premise of our form of government. I can hear the refrain already: "the enemy is at the gate" ... well, maybe we look in the mirror.