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EFF Documentation Victory in Telco Spying Case 89

Posted by Zonk
from the keeping-things-on-the-up-and-up dept.
Krishna Dagli sent on a link to Ars Technica's coverage of an EFF victory in a court case related to the NSA/Telco spying scandal. "Judge Vaughn Walker ruled today that AT&T, Verizon, Cingular (now part of AT&T), Sprint, and BellSouth (also part of AT&T now) must all maintain any data or papers related to the NSA spying case that Walker is overseeing in California. The EFF had requested the ruling out of concern that documents would be destroyed as part of routine data deletion practices before the case could even progress to discovery."
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EFF Documentation Victory in Telco Spying Case

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  • That's nice... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by cthulu_mt (1124113)
    ...but if this Telecom immunity crap gets through its a moot point.

    I hope the rest of you have called your Congressmen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Qzukk (229616)
      I hope the rest of you have called your Congressmen.

      I called their offices several times, but every time I started talking about this immunity stuff, they kept hanging up on me, the bastards!
      • No no you have it all wrong, Your representative is more than happy to talk to you about anything you would like. It's just that these pesky phones have had some issues recently, apparently the exact modulation of the words immunity, corruption, Big Brother, bribe and neutrality seem to have a weird effect on the switching gear that Ma Bell (is that valid again???) just put into place. Rest assured that they are working hard to resolve this minor issue.
        • I don't understand why these records wouldn't already have been tossed... I mean, they've got to know it's totally incriminating.
          • If they suddenly can't find documents they were known to have had, it looks quite bad for them and could leave them open to prosecution.
            • Look at the names. All belong to Ma Bell family. Also notice that T-mobile is not in the list. I am not surprised if they just tell the judge "Oops, too late. We did not know!".
    • by schwaang (667808)

      I hope the rest of you have called your Congressmen.
      IIRC, the House already passed a bill without immunity. It's the Senate who is considering adding immunity to their version of the FISA reform bill. Then the two bills would go to conference, and a frankenstein of the two would be enacted.

      So call your Senators. They'll be voting on this soon.
  • The EFF is Awesome (Score:3, Insightful)

    by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan@jared.gmail@com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:56PM (#21284487)
    Granted, the EFF is a group of lawyers, but they are lawyers working for a better Internet. Sometimes they make me just want to cry. Hopefully this is just the beginning. The NSA has gone way beyond breaking the law. The ease at which they put people under surveilance and on watchlists flies in the face of the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches and bills of attainder. This is great news.
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:49PM (#21285129) Journal
      constitutional ban on unreasonable searches

      My 4th amendment rights have been violated not once but TWICE this year alone. And I'm a 55 year old white guy, I can only imagine if I were young, black, or Hispanic!

      The first one was ironically on Memorial day. I'd run across an old girlfriend, and gave her my phone number and told her where I'd moved, but asked her to wait before visiting as my daughter was in town that weekend. I got home and went to bed, daughter still out with her friends.

      My daughter woke me up - "dad, there's some strange woman on the porch swing and she says she knows you." It was Chris, [slashdot.org] the old girlfriend. Her live-in BF had seen her with me and locked her out of the house (I guess he has very good reason to hate my guts).

      A knock came at the back door - it was the police. Chris had scared teh elderly neighbors, banging on their door. She must have really looked the witch carrying that broom (no I am NOT making this up). I told the cops I was glad they were there and told them about Chris' being locked out. They called teh BF and gave her a ride home, but before they did they informed me that they had opened my garage and had a look around inside - on the day we commemmorate those who died defending the Constitution.

      The second time I gave the wrong two ladies a ride to the wrong house. A big black SUV cut us off as we were leaving, and several very large men wearing vests with FBI, DEA and POLICE on them (the DEA guy was wearing a ski mask - in July!) accosted us, searched me, my car, and the ladies' purses before sending us on our way. No arrest, no warrant, nothing but guns and tasers. No Constitutional rights either, I guess. In the War On (some) Drugs (and the prostitutes who use them I guess), the first casualty was the Constitution.

      Liberty? What liberty? [kuro5hin.org]

      -mcgrew
    • by taniwha (70410)
      what's really scary is that from reading the article I can tell that they are snooping my every packet (seems my packets must pass thru that peering point) .... including now when I'm reading a web page that's discussing the NSA and their breaking of the law .....
      • by taniwha (70410)
        (and I should add every packet you send and receive to kernel.org since PAIX is in there too)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...they will go on to lose the case itself. Too bad.
  • Related Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kludge (13653) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:18PM (#21284745)
  • may indeed be a distant headlight of a big oncoming train. I can't help but think that if more and more judges are making reasonable decisions, even if not enough such decisions, then the country is waking up from the darkness. Yes, I know, DST doesn't really help, but every little bit of goodness counts. It's not like jurisprudence works like the latest fashion fad, it takes time. Now, we only need for a couple of them to have emails go missing (seems a favorite of the current administration) to show culpa
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:23PM (#21284803) Homepage Journal

    routine data deletion practices

    Convenient (for telcos) how they're required by law to retain personal data on people which they exploit for profit, but routinely delete evidence of telco crimes.

    "These days it's all secrecy, and no privacy." - The Rolling Stones, "Fingerprint File" [gettherhythm.com]
    • I generally hate those who start railing about how "America == fascism" and whatnot. However, in these telco cases it's hard not to see the correlation. When you break it down the government allows these guys to break the law (most likely in a crooked way of supporting a campaign). When they get caught do they get punished? No. They get immunity and screwed up data retention rights with which to make a profit.
  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:29PM (#21284875) Journal
    Here's a longer NPR part than the article [npr.org]

    This whole thing just reeks of sketchiness. If congress wanted to show some actually fortitude, they should knock the immunity out, even if there is a veto by the President.
  • by maroberts (15852) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:34PM (#21284939) Homepage Journal
    Judges generally grant motions related to discovery to be on the safe side, to limit chances of appeal later. Only the most unreasonable discovery requests are likely to be refused.

    The EFF have to find something in that discovery to win their action, and that is the uphill battle....
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Yeah, and at least from the wording it sounds like this merely assured they would not be automatically deleted - that's still not a decision the EFF will ever see any of it. Clearly the court wouldn't let it be arbitrarily destroyed, so I don't see the big news. This is the kind of motions even SCO was granted...
    • by abb3w (696381)

      The EFF have to find something in that discovery to win their action, and that is the uphill battle....

      No, I think the real uphill battle is to get the appeals courts to treat "State Secrets! State Secrets! Look at the Wookie!" with the dignity it deserves. Once they get a court to say that State Secrets can't be used to hide State Crimes, at least one or two of the cases ought to be downhill.

  • the telcos would quite happily delete the data anyway and be in contempt... they'd get pardoned for it and a pat on the back from the executive branch...
  • "Judge Vaughn Walker ruled today that AT&T, Verizon, Cingular (now part of AT&T), Sprint, and BellSouth (also part of AT&T now) must all maintain any data or papers related to the NSA spying case that Walker is overseeing in California.

    "Now, Mr. Telco, you be good now and don't destroy any of those documents that may incriminate you in the future, okay? We don't know what documents you have, but we'll ask you to not shred them until we actually can proceed to ask you for them."

    Really why is the

    • If you realize you're gunna get caught and you can take the punishment, why risk adding to it? The punishment for a murderer is sufficiently high that they'll be willing to risk added punishment if it increases the chances they get away clean. In this case those asked to retain the papers won't see life in prison if they're found guilty - they can take the punishment - so why make it worse? If evidence springs up that they did in fact destroy evidence they were specifically ordered to keep, both their pu
    • by Snaffler (311068)
      Actually, the in-house attorneys for AT&T undoubtedly issued a stop shred order as soon as the case was filed. Technically, a judge does not have to issue such an order as a verified threat that litigation is imminent is sufficient to allow a federal court to sanction a company for deleting or destroying files. Penalties can be very high for destruction of evidence.

      The fact that he Judge in this case issued the order (at the request of the plaintiffs) indicates that the Judge was likely worried that the
  • Anybody who thinks that Congress will stand up to the Administration on Telecom snooping is crazy. Here is the dialogue that I see:

    W.H. Staffer: "Lord Cheney, House Judiciary Committee Chair Conyers is trying to block the Telecoms are real Patriots Immunity Bill

    Cheney: "Oh ya? Hold on . . . Here it is. Let me make a call.

    Cheney: "Mr. Black? this is Lord Cheney.
    Mr. Black: "We know it is you. How can we do your bidding?
    Cheney: "Conyers is getting in the way of the TARP bill. What can you give me? I need that
  • by John Sokol (109591) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @08:07PM (#21288491) Homepage Journal

    AT&T gave feds access to all Web, phone traffic, ex-tech says

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2004001159_spying08.html [nwsource.com]

      he alleged that the NSA set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the help of AT&T and without obtaining a court order.

    NSA built a special room in San Francisco to receive data streamed through an AT&T Internet room containing "peering links," or major connections to other telecom providers. Other so-called secret rooms reportedly were constructed at AT&T sites in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, Calif
  • Not this useless Vaughn Walker again.

    Bad judge, bad decision.

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