Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Does the NSA, or the Private Sector Have Better Information?

The NSA and the Bush Administration have been in the news a lot lately for domestic surveillance. A recent development making the news is their alleged partnership with corporate America.

MATTHEW FORDAHL, AP Technology Writer reported yesterday:

"A civil liberties group sued AT&T Inc. on Tuesday for its alleged role in helping the National Security Agency spy on the phone calls and other communications of U.S. citizens without warrants.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, seeks to stop the surveillance program that started shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks. It also seeks billions of dollars in damages.

The EFF claims the San Antonio-based telecommunications company not only provided direct access to its network that carries voice and data but also to its massive databases of stored telephone and Internet records that are updated constantly.

"Our main goal is to stop this invasion of privacy, prevent it from occurring again and make sure AT&T and all the other carriers understand there are going to be legal and economic consequences when they fail to follow the law," said Kevin Bankston, an EFF staff attorney.

President Bush has acknowledged authorizing the super-secret NSA to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails of people within U.S. borders without the approval of a court, as required by existing surveillance and wiretapping laws.

The White House has vigorously defended the program, saying the president acted legally under the constitution and a post-Sept. 11 congressional resolution that granted him broad power to fight terrorism.

Democrats and civil libertarians disagree with the program's defenders, and it has already resulted in lawsuits against the federal government and plans for congressional hearings.
In its lawsuit, the EFF claims AT&T violated U.S. law and the privacy of its customers as part of the "massive and illegal program to wiretap and data mine Americans' communications." The group said it identified AT&T through news reports and its own investigation."

For the full story: Group Sues AT&T Over Alleged Surveillance.

The ACLU seems to be active in the issue, also. Here is a scary site about how this information might be used in the private sector for marketing purposes: ACLU - Pizza.

There is a lot of disagreement on this subject. On a personal level, if terrorists and criminals are being spied on, I could care less and support the efforts to do so. The problem as I see it is when corporations use this same data for so called marketing purposes and innocent people are victimized as a result of this.

Let's face it, we are in the information age and corporations have been gathering data (some might term it spying) on all of us for quite awhile.

The NSA is using the vast amounts of information compiled on citizens for marketing purposes. With all the massive data thefts (intrusions) in the past few years, it is apparent that the criminal element is using this information too.

Perhaps, the criminal element and the NSA know something the rest of us are only starting to understand, which is some of these corporations have gathered the best databases around.

If this is true, then why blame the NSA and the Bush Administration? If we want to solve the problem, perhaps we should address the root cause.

If you would like to read the release on this directly from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, click on the title of this post.


MDConservative said...

That little ad is a farce. Anyone that believes the Government is giving information to pizza delivery business is far from the truth. If you have caller ID and a computer (or even well filed records) you could do what was in that commercial. Of course they toss in the “national ID number” to have people worried about tracking, cause nothing does it like a number.

If you give people the truth, most people are not concerned. But you can depend on the ACLU to link it to, of all things, pizza to make people scared and have them looking for the black helicopters. I tell you, there are black helicopters. Just because there are people scared by this doesn’t mean things should change.

“I don’t want my tax money to go to the poor via need programs, because by giving it to them it takes money away from national security.” (Statement for the sake of argument, before everyone goes insane.) Will my money continue to go to help, yes. Should it, maybe. But for those that want change on one thing, you should be willing to accept it elsewhere. For those that want to get rid of the NSA, ok…I want to get rid of welfare.

prying1 said...

LOL MD Conservative -

This whole program is not being done in a bubble. There are checks and balances and bad guys have been and will be caught as a result of it.

MDConservative said...

I am glad you say that. The "bad guys" being the ones who disclosed classified information, and in turn the journalists who published information of a classified nature during a time of war.

They will be caught.

Ed Dickson said...

I'm all for that Gentlemen.

By the way, I am not a big fan of the ACLU, but the ad was provactive AND therefore thought provoking.

Thanks for the comments and taking the time to read my post.