Thu 11 May 2006
I like to keep it local on Concerned Citizen, but this report does have a local angle.
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: The NSA record collection program
“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation’s borders, this person added.
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
Bellsouth, my local provider, is part of this abridgement of my Constitutional rights. I will be checking with our local ACLU to see if they plan to participate in a class-action suit.
One of the reasons I’ve pushed for local control of communications vis-a-vis a municipal network is to protect our Chapel Hill citizenry from such affronts.
There is a hero in this story:
One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest.
According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest’s CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA’s assertion that Qwest didn’t need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers’ information and how that information might be used.
[ UPDATE: ]
I’ve contacted the following organizations:
- Rep. David Price – Contact.
- NC Utilities Commission – Contact.
- NC Attorney General – Contact.
- NC ACLU – Contact.
- National ACLU – Contact.
- Electionic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – Contact.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – Contact.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – Contact.