I see that the other significant development today is that BellSouth wants USAToday to retract the story that the phone company provided records to the NSA. But TPMmuckraker explains how BellSouth could have made the data available, anyway —
A new Business Week article may help explain how AT&T and BellSouth can say they didn’t help the NSA, despite the spy agency having millions of their records showing the call details of Americans using their networks.
The magazine reveals a hidden corner of the telecommunications world: a small group of companies who specialize in granting the government access to telecommunications records, conversations and real-time data on behalf of the telecom giants.
That’s right: the government now makes so many requests for wiretaps, phone records and call information that an industry has sprung up to handle the load.
From the Business Week article:
The Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security spend millions annually to buy commercial databases that track Americans’ finances, phone numbers, and biographical information, according to a report last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Often, the agencies and their contractors don’t ensure the data’s accuracy, the GAO found.
Buying commercially collected data allows the government to dodge certain privacy rules. The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts how federal agencies may use such information and requires disclosure of what the government is doing with it. But the law applies only when the government is doing the data collecting.
“Grabbing data wholesale from the private sector is the way agencies are getting around the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Fourth Amendment,” says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and a member of the Homeland Security Dept.’s Data Privacy & Integrity Advisory Committee.
Oh, and I see there was a prison riot at Guantanamo
THE largest prisoner uprising yet at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre was reported by the US military yesterday as the UN watchdog on torture called for the camp to be shut down.
The revolt took place when ten terror suspects clashed with ten guards trying to prevent a detainee from hanging himself in a communal living space in a medium security section of the camp on Thursday.