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EFF Sues AT&T Over NSA Wiretapping 746

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the getting-caught-in-the-wrong-bed dept.
Omega1045 writes "Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing is reporting that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the National Security Agency execute illegal warrant-less wiretaps against American citizens. From the article: 'The lawsuits alleges that AT&T Corp. has opened its key telecommunications facilities and databases to direct access by the NSA and/or other government agencies, thereby disclosing to the government the contents of its customers' communications as well as detailed communications records about millions of its customers, including the lawsuit's class members.'"
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EFF Sues AT&T Over NSA Wiretapping

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  • by Thud457 (234763) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:05PM (#14611659) Homepage Journal
    thousands confused...
  • Yes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by s0rbix (629316) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:07PM (#14611676)
    EFF is my BFF.
    • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Funny)

      by micahfk (913465) <whiteaznguy@m[ ]hfk.com ['ica' in gap]> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:37PM (#14612689) Homepage
      the EFFect of this will bring it to everyone's ATTention.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:08PM (#14611683) Homepage
    This will definitely be an interesting story to follow. This will put companies on the defensive for complying with any illegal acts by the government. Some say you can't sue the government, but you sure as hell can sue the people who comply with illegal acts. Why didn't I think about that angle? I just assumed they tapped the communications in some way that circumvented the companies...
    • Civil rights unions file suits like this only to get attention. These suits do not get anywhere. Remember, courts want to encourage compliance with court orders or government agency orders instead of everyone pulling a Google. What normally happens is that the United States government comes in and files an amicus brief or intervenes in the action and says, "National Security. Nothing to see here." Completely apolitically, look at the gays in the military issue. The military files an amicus brief to the effect that gays in the military in any capacity--even as a lawyer or translator--would be detrimental to national security. Or rather, gays who admit to being gay in contravention of "don't ask, don't tell" would be dangerous. Think about that logically. The Supreme Court took that argument hook, line, and sinker. I wouldn't get too happy about the EFF's suit just yet.
    • You don't know how right you are, if the EFF keeps it up. I, for one, amd going to make a cash donation to the EFF now, and tell them that my donation is intended to keep the illegal wiretapping lawsuits coming.

      EFF has a long road ahead of it... it needs to get RIAA with telecom companies. One or two actions will raise eyebrows, but when the fear of a lawsuit tingles CEOs backsides whenever the government whispers in their ear, those whispers are going to start falling on deaf ears. So it's going to take
  • New Slogan (Score:4, Funny)

    by cloudkj (685320) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:08PM (#14611691)
    The new AT&T. Your world, wiretapped.
  • Flip Side? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by akasper (519414) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:10PM (#14611708)
    What would have happened to AT&T if they had not complied with the demands of government agencies?
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:12PM (#14611721) Homepage Journal

    "What'd they say?"
    "Said they're gonna sue AT&T."
    "Why?"
    "Dunno, probably because AT&T let's us wiretap illegally."
    "What're they saying now?"
    "Something about their line is probably even now being bugged."
    "Harsh!"
  • TLAs... (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Good Reverend (84440) <michael@michrisP ... minus physicist> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:12PM (#14611723) Homepage Journal
    EFF Sues AT&T Over NSA Wiretapping

    OMG!
    • LOL! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)
      Ok, here's a challenge. Write a summary of the entire article using only three letter actonyms, punctuation symbols and mathematical notation.
      • Y RLY (Score:3, Funny)

        by mobby_6kl (668092)
        01001001 00100000 01110111 01100001 01110011 00100000 01100111 01101111 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100100 01101111 00100000 01100101 01111000 01100001 01100011 01110100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110011 01110101 01100111 01100111 01100101 01110011 01110100 01100101 01100100 00101100 00100000 01100010 01110101 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101110 00100000 01110010 01100101
      • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Traa (158207) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:44PM (#14612723) Homepage Journal
        NSA==GWB
        NSA>EFF
        :-(
        FU AT&T
  • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro@gmaBOYSENil.com minus berry> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:12PM (#14611728) Homepage Journal
    Nice to see someone finally starting some backlash for the tapping, even if it's not against the government.

    In other news, Cory better be careful or he may get another mean letter [slashdot.org] calling him names and threatenin' all legal-like.
  • by Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:14PM (#14611742)
    I thought the NSA just happened to have satellite dishes right next to every communications down link in the US.

    Maybe they haven't yet perfected undersea cable interception.

    Where are those laser guided sharks when you need them?

  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:18PM (#14611790) Homepage Journal


    The text of the EFF lawsuit [eff.org] requests damages of $100 per day for each day the violation occurred or $10,000 (whichever is greater) be paid to each class member. Sure beats getting a coupon for $10 off our next purchase of a bill of rights.

    Seth
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:18PM (#14611797) Homepage Journal
    By responding to a wiretapping request they knew to be illegal, AT&T became complicit to the act, and can be charged with aiding and abetting.

    It's a valid assertion. "I was just following orders," has long been regarded as no defense. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

    Schwab

  • by cswiger2005 (905744) <cswiger@mac.com> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:25PM (#14611853) Homepage
    How about directly linking to the article, rather than bouncing through a portal full of ads?

    http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/ [eff.org]

    Seems like BoingBoing.com is trolling for hits with several recent articles. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, but I'd wish the Slashdot editors to prefer primary content to secondary sources being framed within ad bars on all sides....
    • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:23PM (#14612617)
      Most of those aren't ads, they're permanent picture links to stuff that the editors think is cool. Who the hell advertises "Impeach Bush"?

      Anyway, boingboing doesn't appear to be doing anything they haven't been doing for years - collecting interesting stuff from the internet and putting it on boingboing. It's like slashdot, only with interesting stuff and fewer idiots doing the writing. I can only guess that random users have been submitting things to slasdot that they saw on boingboing more often - I haven't noticed any of it coming from the boingboing editors.
  • by bigtrike (904535) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:29PM (#14611893)
    Just like a citizen who is not guilty of any crimes should welcome the friendly government agent asking for his papers, if AT&T is innocent they should welcome this. If they have not been breaking laws by complying with the NSA, then they have nothing to fear. Should AT&T attempt to fight this, it must be because they are definitely guilty of violating laws.
  • by MasterCommanderZero (951065) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:31PM (#14611906)
    Just say "I'm a sex bomb". Your call will be recorded -> keyword match. Then you can pass any message you want to the governement, at least someone will be listening.
  • by toby (759) * on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @07:42PM (#14611992) Homepage Journal
    That clinches it... I have thought about contributing [eff.org] before, but this clinches it. I'm going to join.
  • by notcreative (623238) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @08:01PM (#14612133) Journal
    How is the EFF going to establish that it has the standing necessary to bring this suit? That seems to be the central Catch-22 in this story; it's plainly illegal, but the only way to take the NSA to court is to prove you were monitored, but the people who were monitored are secret, which means you can't take them to court, which means it must not be illegal. How do we establish standing when the victims are secret?
  • by mcguyver (589810) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @08:55PM (#14612463) Homepage
    Also important. How is it that 20,000 requests can be made through FISA and only 5 were rejected? It would seem that any request made through FISA would be approved - if that's the case then why have FISA and how does this differ from warrant-less wiretaps?
  • by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:02PM (#14612496) Homepage Journal
    This is pure genius because it utilizes such a simple, basic concept: accountability.

    Every group or individual has an ethical responsibility to do no harm to others. If someone asks you to do something harmful to someone, and you choose to carry out their request, you are responsible, period.

    Bravo to the EFF for this creative, yet totally legitimate, approach.

    As a Microsoft employee, I already donate to the EFF year-round through the company's charitable giving campaign (and the part that really tickles me is that Microsoft matches whatever amount an employee contributes to any organization, so I'm getting Microsoft to help fund the EFF), but I may very well increase my donation amount during the next cycle. The EFF keeps fighting for the right positions when no one else is there to stand up and fight for them.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:03PM (#14612501) Homepage Journal
    I dont think AT&T had a choice. if the feds come to your door you have to let them in. They are a regulated industry remember. The rules are different.
  • by Brushen (938011) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:15PM (#14612575)
    The media does not believe in providing extensive coverage of information now. I particularly mean the visual media, but other types are guilty as well. First, the visual media does not have time for broadcasting 10 page news reports. Forget that they are a 24/7 news network. They want to repeat the same headlines over and over, beginning the cycle every thirty minutes, for viewers just tuning into the network. This leads to thirty second news briefs, with a tiny fast-moving screencrawler at the bottom for those that, for whatever insane reason, are looking for more of today's less privilaged headlines.

    Explaining the reasoning behind Bush's position, that he and Alberto Gonzales think Congress allowed it when they passed the authorization of military force in 2001, yet that Alberto Gonzales refused to ask for legislation to amend the authorization because he knew that the legislation would not pass. Explaining that this interpretation would depend entirely on whether or not an authorization to use military force is included in the definition of a declaration of war will not make the news. Talking about Supreme Court precedents related to this, like East District of Michigan v. United States, I think it was called, would not make the news either.

    The most I have ever seen any of this in the media was in a written two page report carried by the written MSNBC, with only two paragraphs of Bush's lawyers explaining about the authorization and declaration of war part, which to my knowledge did not air on the television network.

    With CNN's very frequent recycling of headlines, and the bottom crawler, it is very obvious they want to be as accessable to people just tuning in as possible, trying to talk about as many current issues as possible, meaning to me that CNN is just trying to be a poorly performed version of CNN.com. The Internet, or the newspaper, if you can bother figuring out how to flip through the pages now days, will always trump TV for that reason. CNN borrows nearly all congressional footage from C-SPAN with permission, and cuts to them frequently, but it seems very, very wrong to me to advertise to watch the Alito hearings on CNN where there is a version not punctuated by advertisements and Woolf Blitzer saying, "This is the Situation Room. Stay tuned. You're watching CNN."

    In year 1984, you listen to your phone. In year 2004, your phone listens to you.

  • Ahh yes... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gamenfo (18212) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:17PM (#14612584) Homepage
    Okay, so the EFF sues AT&T for letting them do the wiretapping. Lets just say they win. Do you really think they will stop tapping the phones? Instead the NSA has to move the wiretapping from easy (ie, AT&T handing them the keys) to a bit more covert (ie, splicing in somewhere remote) which will cost tons more to the taxpayer than the original plan.
     
    I am sure they already do plenty of covert splices as it is now. When I was working for a major internet backbone provider a few years back, I always found it interesting that in the office right below where we did all the long haul network designs was an office for the Dept. of Defense. Anytime we were walking through the halls and one of their employees were punching in the code to gain entry, they'd "accidentally" punch in the wrong code. I did some research, but couldnt find any info on what was done in that office... So, by no real logic, that means it had to be the NSA and they were intercepting all of our network designs so that they could find a repeater in the middle of no where to attach their monitoring equipment. Its only logical...
  • Join EFF (Score:4, Informative)

    by samj (115984) * <samj@samj.net> on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:30PM (#14612650) Homepage
    Like what you see? Want to see more of it? You can. Join EFF.
  • by FellowConspirator (882908) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:55PM (#14612780)
    But, whether the wiretaps are legal or not isn't relevent to the complaint. Assuming the wiretaps are relevent, providing access to the consumer information in AT&T's database would still violate a number of laws still on the books. This is actually a good complaint specifically because it's a peculiar case whereby it strikes at a place where the government hasn't actually asserted any authority.

    However, I would guess that the prize for the EFF is not in wining the case, but what they may find in discovery.

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