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You gave Dear Leader permission to scoop up your phone records

That’s the government’s explanation for the National Security Agency obtaining call records of millions of citizens from AT&T;, Verizon and BellSouth. (WaPo):

One government lawyer who has participated in negotiations with telecommunications providers said the Bush administration has argued that a company can turn over its entire database of customer records — and even the stored content of calls and e-mails — because customers “have consented to that” when they establish accounts. The fine print of many telephone and Internet service contracts includes catchall provisions, the lawyer said, authorizing the company to disclose such records to protect public safety or national security, or in compliance with a lawful government request.

“It is within their terms of service because you have consented to that,” the lawyer said. If the company also consents, “and they do it voluntarily, the U.S. government can accept it.”

Let’s see, is there any telephone company that doesn’t have this little privacy escape clause? I dare say no. If that’s the case, then consumers don’t actually have a choice regarding consent unless the choice is not to have a phone.

Since Qwest was the one company that didn’t bend over for the NSA, I’m sure its board is breathing a sigh of relief about this, over at Think Progress: Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records.

As Ms. Julien said in an email, “Guess your phone bill is going up.”

Also: check out MadKane’s limerick, We Have Bush’s Number … and He Has Ours — plus a haiku.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding