Friday, May 12, 2006

how much did you pay... have your phone records turned over to the NSA?

this is the question i don't see anyone asking about the NSA phone call database story that USA Today broke the other day and which contains the following buried in paragraph 34 (my emphasis):
The agency told the companies that it wanted them to turn over their "call-detail records," a complete listing of the calling histories of their millions of customers. In addition, the NSA wanted the carriers to provide updates, which would enable the agency to keep tabs on the nation's calling habits. The sources said the NSA made clear that it was willing to pay for the cooperation.
so how much of our tax money did this government shell out to aquire our phone call records? conversely, how much did these companies profit from selling this information? anyone sees reads or hears anything about this please lemme know.

equally if not more troubling is this little titbit:
In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.
sounds like blackmail to me...

* * *

from the boston globe:
Mark Jellison, a Verizon customer in Quincy, isn't fazed that his phone company may have turned over his calling records and those of millions of others to the National Security Agency as part of an effort to thwart terrorism.

"After 9/11 our world has changed," Jellison said yesterday, standing outside a grocery store in Dorchester. "Prior to 9/11, I would have been more concerned, but I'm less concerned today."
score one again for the politics of fear. usually we think of the pre-9/11 world as one of complacency and naivety, and that would be true with respect to personal or national security. (and is still true i suppose with respect to our standing in the world vis-a-vis our ongoing imperialism, supporting repressive regimes and overthrowing democratically elected governments, etc.)

but fear is not all about "heightened awareness," paranoia, racial and religious prejudices, etc. clealy if mr. jellison is any indication, fear breeds complacency too vis-a-vis civil liberties, privacy issues, checks and balances, constitutional protections against unchecked executive power, etc.

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