Your Provider, Your Country, and You

Perhaps we need “separation of corporation and state” inserted into the Bill of Rights.

Your fellow countrymen:

“The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.”


Are conversations on a Vonage line secure?

A conversation on a Vonage line is actually more secure than one over an ordinary phone line. A VoIP conversation is broken up into pieces called packets. These packets are sent over the Internet and reassembled at the listener’s end. Packets contain no meaningful identifiers in them. Your account information, for example, is not transmitted in these packets. The packets don’t necessarily take the same path over the Internet, and will travel only to the intended location (the listener). This means that someone can’t simply tap into your conversation, or redirect your packets somewhere else.

Additionally, our servers that handle calls have various security features to prevent unauthorized access to the internal network. All of this makes Vonage an extremely secure means of communication.

Bzzzt, not actually true! You lose!


AT&T has a long history of vigorously protecting customer privacy. Our customers expect, deserve and receive nothing less than our fullest commitment to their privacy.

We also have an obligation to assist law enforcement and other government agencies responsible for protecting the public welfare, whether it be an individual or the security interests of the entire nation.

We prize the trust our customers place in us. If and when AT&T is asked to help, we do so strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions. Beyond that, we don’t comment on matters of national security.

I want to meet the person who’s like, “You know? I really trust AT&T. God, what a company. I’d tell it anything…willingly!”

Joe Nacchio, the champion of privacy advocates everywhere:

“Telecommunications giant Qwest refused to provide the government with access to telephone records of its 15 million customers after deciding the request violated privacy law, a lawyer for a former company executive said Friday.

In a written statement, the attorney for former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio said the government approached the company in the fall of 2001 seeking access to the phone records of Qwest customers, with neither a warrant nor approval from a special court established to handle surveillance matters.

“Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act,” attorney Herbert J. Stern said from his Newark, N.J., office.”

What a saint. Oh, wait, where do we remember his name from…?

On March 15, 2005, Nacchio and six other former Qwest executives were sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They were accused of a “massive” $3 billion financial fraud between 1999 and 2002 and of benefiting from an inflated stock price.

Since his departure from Qwest in June 2002, Nacchio has been the source of a Department of Justice investigation. Sources firmiliar with the investigation have pointed to Spring 2001 when Nacchio sold stock. On November 21, 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nacchio “believed Qwest was doing well because it was getting lucrative secret national-security-related work from the federal government.”

Oh, yeah! That’s right! 42 counts of insider trading during his company’s stock bust! And, uh, what was this secret national-security-related work that didn’t have anything to do with the NSA?

General Michael Hayden on the 4th Amendment

QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I’d like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use —

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually — the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But the —

GEN. HAYDEN: That’s what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable —

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says —

QUESTION: The court standard, the legal standard —

GEN. HAYDEN: — unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, “We reasonably believe.” And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say “we reasonably believe”; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, “we have probable cause.”

And so what many people believe — and I’d like you to respond to this — is that what you’ve actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of “reasonably believe” in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?

GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. I didn’t craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order.

Just to be very clear — and believe me, if there’s any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it’s the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you’ve raised to me — and I’m not a lawyer, and don’t want to become one — what you’ve raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is “reasonable.” And we believe — I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we’re doing is reasonable.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT):

“Are you telling me tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qa’ida?” he said. “These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything.”

Surprise: Comcast!

Comcast does not “provide the federal government access to customer (video, Internet or phone calling) records, or the ability to monitor customer communications, in the absence of valid legal process,” a Comcast spokeswoman told USA Today. However, an amendment to the CCPA1984 in 2001 gave government agencies the right to request internet log information from cable internet providers. The information shielded by the CCPA1984 only now pertains to video and VOIP/digital phone services.