Millions in US tax dollars go to Big Data for wiretap capabilities

Thursday, July 11, 2013
By Paul Martin

The US government uses American tax dollars to pay major Internet companies and telecommunications giants like Verizon and AT&T for unprecedented access into millions of phone records and the ability to scour vast online databases.

AT&T charges the government a $325 “activation fee” for each individual wiretap and a daily fee of $10 to maintain it. Verizon, on the other hand, charges government eavesdroppers $775 for the first month of monitoring an individual then $500 in each month that follows, Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) told the Associated Press.

While Big Data executives claim they do not profit from the government requests, civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union encourage Microsoft, Google and the like to charge because it could, theoretically, discourage lawmakers from buying the warrantless access.

“What we don’t want is surveillance to become a profit center,” Christopher Soghoian, the ACLU’s principal technologist, told the AP. Because financial records create a paper trail “it’s always better to charge one dollar. It creates friction, and it creates transparency.”

Yahoo, Google and Microsoft did not disclose their fees, but the ACLU determined that some email transcripts can cost the federal government $25. Facebook said it grants the government access for free.

The Rest…HERE

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