June 16, 2024

Telco Immunity Deal Coming?

That’s what Jane Hamsher thinks

According to the ACLU, there is rumor of a backroom deal being brokered by Jay Rockefeller on FISA that will include retroactive immunity. I’ve heard from several sources that Steny Hoyer is doing the dirty work on the House side, and some say it will be attached to the new supplemental.

If she’s right, it’s about time. 

Americans’ privacy has been invaded in deep and profound ways during the Bush administration.  Is there anyone who truly believes otherwise?  But the right approach to rectifying the problem isn’t to go after the companies that cooperated, willingly or otherwise, with the Feds.  It’s to go after the officials who gave the orders. 

So far there’s been no willingness whatever on the part of Democrats to do that and I don’t fully understand why.  Best guesses:  Either they realize that doing so would be futile or they recognize that the administration did what it had to do during a security crisis.  Neither is a reason to target telecom companies.

Jane’s reminder to us of the power that a modern government spying apparatus can wield is interesting, in places, and worth taking to heart as technology continues to grow more powerful:

Unfettered access to the carrier’s systems offers powerful information. All calls and data communications including e-mail, Web, text messages, pictures and videos are attainable in real-time.

Our government tracks all Internet use with powerful tools that analyze and prepare behavior-based reports. Any single piece of information can be effortlessly cross-referenced to build an electronic dragnet constantly monitoring our actions and even predicting our behavior.

Information overload and processing power, once the sole barrier to these tactics, are no longer a factor. Given precipitous developments in technology, inaction today would surely have an exponentially greater impact on the rights and lives of future American generations — where an Orwellian nightmare would become reality.

But taking a little to far, Pasdar comes off a bit paranoid.

Ubiquitous Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are permanently hidden in almost everything including clothes, packaged goods, credit cards and toll payment devices. As small as a grain of sand, they offer not just tracking but also detailed information on anyone or any item.

Scare tactics, none of which have much to do with the question at hand.  That is, should communications companies be prosecuted for cooperating with the government during a crisis, particularly for performing actions that have now been deemed acceptable?


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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