Sprint knows where you are, and so does the feds.
Dec 2nd, 2009 by scaredpoet


Remember not too long ago, when there was a huge fervor over warrantless wiretapping?  Back in the bad old days of the Bush Administration (and maybe even today), Verizon and AT&T willingly participated in permitting the NSA to monitor communications traffic on their networks, without the need for silly little things like, oh, search warrants and due process.  And boy, everyone sure got all in a huff when they found out!  Despite it being an extension of legislation hurriedly rushed into law to appease a panicky public, the citizenry refused (as they often do) to look at themselves in the mirror for being panicky petes, and instead the “Big Two” carriers mentioned above got the brunt of the public’s ire.  Lawsuits were threatened and all kinds of punishments were dreamed up for the corporate actors in this conspiracy, all while the Bush administration pretty much got shrugged off by the general public for, well, doing what they always did.

Another company to get a pass was Sprint.  You just didn’t hear about what their involvement might’ve been.

But it looks like now more than ever, surveillance is alive and well, and Sprint is making it incredibly easy for Law Enforcement to find out where any use of their network might be.  So easy in fact, that Law Enforcement has tracked the wherabouts of Sprint users more than 8 million times in the past year alone!

Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

The evidence documenting this surveillance program comes in the form of an audio recording of Sprint’s Manager of Electronic Surveillance, who described it during a panel discussion at a wiretapping and interception industry conference, held in Washington DC in October of 2009.

Consider that Sprint has about 49.3 million customers.  Even if you assume that some users were no doubt tracked more than once, that’s still a pretty astonishing number.  Are there really millions of sleeping terrorists chatting and texting on Sprint phones?  Or has the government continued to be way, way too willing to disregard the freedoms of its citizens in the name of homeland security, while Sprint passively sits by and allows it to happen?

Telcos to FBI: LOLZ! No wiretaps for you, deadbeat!
Jan 12th, 2008 by scaredpoet


Well, FBI wiretaps actually cost money! Phone companies not only do the dirty work for our fearless government, but the FBi pays them for their work. Who knew?

Well, truth be told, the term “paid” is being used loosely, as the Feds have lately begun to act like a finicky teen who ran up their phone bill and can’t pay it:

According to the Washington Post’s Dan Eggen, audit results released today found that “telephone companies have repeatedly cut off FBI wiretaps of alleged terrorists and criminal suspects because of failures to pay telecommunication bills, including one invoice for $66,000 at one unidentified field office….The report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glenn Fine also identified one case in which an order obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was halted because of ‘untimely payment.’”

Oh, in case you were wondering: there was also mention in the report of other incompetence at the FBI, too. You know, piddly stuff… like, guns and laptops with citizens’ personal data on them missing. Nothing terribly important. You know.

So here we were, all worried that our civil rights were being violated, but in reality the FBI can’t even pay a phone bill on time. Or, if you come from the right side of the aisle, consider this: actual terrorist targets are probably able to talk freely because the FBI can’t pay their damn bills. Greeeeat.

It also makes you wonder: how much does a single wiretap cost? Also, how much taxpayer money is the federal government pouring into telcos to spy on people as a whole?

Unfortunately, the cited article above goes into a rant about how we should send telcos a “citizen’s” bill and make them pay, linking this to the big issue of whether telcos should be granted immunity from lawsuits over wiretapping. Frankly, I don’t understand the hard-on that civil liberties unions have over suing the telephone companies. Let’s face it: they were doing what the government TOLD them to do. If a big menacing government-guy walks into the average IT drone’s work space and talks of terrorism and Homeland Security and then waves an officially looking piece of paper around, giving orders all authoritative-like, chances are, the IT guy is gonna cave. That’s just how it is.

If the Civil Liberties’ people want to sue someone, they should lobby hard to permit lawsuits on the issue against the government, and failing that, the individual people within government who gave the orders for wiretaps in the first place. Civil liberties groups keep referring to this as illegal wiretapping… so why are they ignoring that our government officials spawned the illegality in the first place?

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