Saturday, October 10, 2009

U.S. Telecom Companies Are Part of Government

according to the Justice Department.

I used to read the Wired magazine in the 1990s, back when the Internet was still treated as curious niche. I liked reading about new gadgets of all sorts, as I was one of those people who had to have "it", whatever it was, as long as it had never existed before. Buggy? So what? I'd boldly go where no one had gone before. Something like that.

So, it is rather shocking for me to see the headline like this on the Wired's site. Probably the magazine has always covered technology and its social and political impact, and I didn't notice or care when I was a subscriber.

Telephone Company Is Arm of Government, Feds Admit in Spy Suit (Ryan Singel, 10/8/09 Wired)

"The Department of Justice has finally admitted it in court papers: The nation’s telecom companies are an arm of the government — at least when it comes to secret spying.

"Fortunately, a judge says that relationship isn’t enough to squash a rights group’s open records request for communications between the nation’s telecoms and the feds.

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation wanted to see what role telecom lobbying of Justice Department played when the government began its year-long, and ultimately successful, push to win retroactive immunity for AT&T and others being sued for unlawfully spying on American citizens.

"The feds argued that the documents showing consultation over the controversial telecom immunity proposal weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act since they were protected as “intra-agency” records:

"“The communications between the agencies and telecommunications companies regarding the immunity provisions of the proposed legislation have been regarded as intra-agency because the government and the companies have a common interest in the defense of the pending litigation and the communications regarding the immunity provisions concerned that common interest.”" [emphasis is mine]

Get this? The government is saying, as the Wired writer (or editor) summarizes in the title, that the telecom companies are part of government agencies. Information exchange between the federal government (in this case the Justice Department) and the telecom companies are "intra-agency" information. 'Intra' means 'within'.

In other words, it's information WITHIN THE SAME AGENCY.

The Justice Department and its intradepartmental subordinate, the telecom companies, continue the practice of warrantless wire-tapping of US citizens.

How nothing has changed.


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