Telecoms Implicated in Bush-Era Domestic Spying Now Starting 'Privacy Coalition'

Photo: Ken/cc/flickr

Telecoms Implicated in Bush-Era Domestic Spying Now Starting 'Privacy Coalition'

AT&T among founding members of 21st Century Privacy Coalition

Politico is reporting that a group of leading telecommunications corporations has announced that they are forming a privacy coalition to "focus on updating U.S. privacy and data security laws."

Among the 21st Century Privacy Coalition members are Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and the United States Telecom Association, and "will be headed by former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and former U.S. Representative Mary Bono Mack of FaegreBD Consulting."

The Hill reports that

The group will push for privacy and data security laws that "better serve consumer expectations as well as technological and competitive changes in the communications marketplace."

Remarking on the news of the coalition, Tim Karr of Free Press tweeted "What could possibly go wrong?" and added:

AT&T was sued in 2006 for collaborating with the NSA's widespread domestic spying program by handing over communications of millions of Americans.

As Robert Reich wrote back in 2007:

... executives at the nation's biggest telecoms -- AT&T, Verizon, and others -- didn't blink an eye when the National Security Agency came knocking. You want records of domestic phone calls? Sure, help yourself! Emails? Yeah, we got tons. They're yours!

The telecoms were later granted immunity for their involvement with the dragnet surveillance.

Now, in the wake of new and ongoing revelations of NSA spying brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden, some of these same telecoms are apparently interested in "privacy" and "better serv[ing] consumer expectations."

The newest revelation, which exposes bulk collection of internet metadata by the NSA initiated by George W. Bush and continued under Obama administration for two years, is a "vindication" for AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein.

Digital rights groups Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued AT&T and used Klein's "undisputed evidence" to show that that the firm was "diverting Internet traffic into the hands of the NSA wholesale, in violation of federal wiretapping laws and the Fourth Amendment."

On today's exposure that the NSA did in fact collect internet metadata in bulk from 2001-2011, Klein told Wired in a telephone interview, "This is a complete vindication."


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