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Why the TelComs Love to Snoop

kelley b's picture

Because it pays so well. Justin Rood:

If you cringe when your read your monthly Internet or phone bill, take heart: Uncle Sam probably does too.

I wouldn't count on it, but let's give Justin the benefit and continue:

...According to an internal Comcast cable company document, the giant cable-Internet-phone provider charges the government $1,000 nearly every time the FBI or other intelligence or law enforcement agency wants to surveil a person's e-mail or digital phone account...

On top of its "start-up" fee, Comcast charges state and federal authorities $750 a month to maintain electronic surveillance, according to the document, which was obtained by the nonprofit Secrecy News Web site.

The fees are charged for nearly all law enforcement or intelligence surveillance requests. In cases involving child exploitation, Comcast waives the fees, the document states.

In addition to those surveillance services, Comcast can also provide state and federal authorities with customer billing information for a fee, according to the 35-page document, entitled "Law Enforcement Handbook." The company strives to respond "within eight to ten days" to government requests, the handbook states...

With that kind of profit, I should think so.

...In letters to Congress released yesterday, carriers AT&T, Verizon and Qwest declined to discuss the program. Qwest has previously stated it declined to participate in the program, despite overtures from the administration.

There have been no reports that Comcast, which provides digital phone service to 3.5 million people, has been involved in the TSP.

The Comcast handbook, dated September 2007 and stamped "Comcast Confidential," does not say how many requests for surveillance assistance Comcast has received.

With that kind of financial incentive, it's not surprising AT&T and Verizon practically stampeded Dear Leader into becoming Big Brother.

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