Spying on Americans through Cellphone Carriers
NSA Spying: ‘If We Tell You, We’ll Have to Kill You’
by Tom Burghardt
July 14, 2012
When Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) in 2008, a privacy-killing law that gutted First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections for Americans while granting immunity to giant telecoms that assisted the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless wiretapping programs, we were assured that the government “does not spy” on our communications.
Yet scarcely a year after FAA was signed into law by President Bush, The New York Times revealed that under Hope and Change™ huckster Barack Obama, NSA continued the previous regime’s illegal practices, intercepting “private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year.”
The wholesale vacuuming-up of private communications by the sprawling Pentagon bureaucracy were described by unnamed “senior officials” as the “‘overcollection’ of domestic communications of Americans;” in other words, a mere technical “glitch” in an otherwise “balanced” program.
But what most Americans are blissfully unaware of is the fact that they carry in their pockets what have been described as near-perfect spy devices: their cellphones.
Earlier this week, The New York Times disclosed that “cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.”
The report by carriers, made in response to congressional inquiries “document an explosion in cellphone surveillance in the last five years, with the companies turning over records thousands of times a day in response to police emergencies, court orders, law enforcement subpoenas and other requests.”
“I never expected it to be this massive,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, “who requested the reports from nine carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.”