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FBI: If We Told You . . . (Part II) (aclu.org)
226 points by trotsky on May 12, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

I think that whatever grounds corporations (and their customers) have to challenge these requests that those grounds have far more basis in the law than "it would be bad for business." If the grounds for challenge are baseless then a court will toss the case, but I think that would be highly unlikely.

People have a constitutional right to be secure in their papers and effects and the court should be the one judging where these rights start and end, and not the FBI.

Exactly what is so important that a warrant cannot be obtained from a judge before tapping these lines? Where is the justification that this is necessary to secure our happiness and freedom?

If it is necessary to repeal parts of the constitution then we should have a frank, open and honest discussion about it. The more likely case is that Augustus has no clothes.

> I think that whatever grounds corporations (and their customers) have to challenge these requests that those grounds have far more basis in the law than "it would be bad for business."

I wouldn't underestimate the extent to which the Commerce Clause could be applied.

Sure. Congress never underestimates how far they can take it.

I couldn't have said it better myself. What I've witnessed is that companies are apt to lie down in favor of the FBI because building up a rapport with the FBI can be a good thing in certain business models. (don't ask).

The DoJ is well-aware of this, I'm sure, and is only too happy to throw its full weight around.

Which business models are you referring to?

Famously QWEST refused to cooperate with the NSA's warrantless wiretapping efforts a few years ago, and claimed that they lost large government contracts as a result. See http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Qwest-Punished-For-Wireta... for verification.

I've heard of someone through an acquaintance whose company gets something like $60 mill in revenue from one of those iffy agencies of the US. It's nothing to sneeze at.

Officially, I think it's called the "brown nose" business model.

He said "don't ask" but I still would've asked if you didn't.

To me, this suggests that corporations have too much power in this country. This explains why the FBI is heavy-handed with their "do not disclose" style issuances to corporations. It isn't so much that the FBI is scared the company will tip someone off, but that people in general will become more knowledgeable about these activities. This poses a risk for companies as proponents of privacy will be very outspoken.

If anything, this is a great argument for why these things SHOULD be public knowledge.

'if what we ARE telling you is this scary imagine the stuff we're protecting you from knowing.'

how fantastically polite.

Someone should start a company that rates how companies handle customer data. On a scale of 0 to telco, how invasive are you.

I actually like this idea. Where does facebook sit in that scale? I imagine pretty close to telco.

Hell, I'd put facebook ahead of telco. Telcos have the bureaucracy that begets incompetence and therefore inaction; facebook ranks whose profiles I visit most so it can optimize my search results and minifeeds.

Reminds me of a certain movie...

"Operation Blackbriar started as an NEAT surveillance program. It is now the umbrella program for all our black-ops. Full envelope intrusion, rendition, experimental interrogation - it is all run out of this office. We are the sharp end of the stick now"

Hum I read that more as, we need it secret or corps providing us info will never accept to do it and will fight to the end even if they are legally bound to provide the information.

So it's not that they don't want challenges it's that they think they can't even get what they legally can without secrecy.

It's not a very good argument by the FBI for sure. Obviously if people knew that some corps provided info but not other, it could penalize the first by losing customers but we already know we can't trust certain companies even with all the secrecy.

As a corporation that would like to resist any demands for my customers information & data stored on my servers what can I do? Currently the way the laws are written it is illegally in some cases even to notify the customer that they are being surveilled.

IANAL, but although you may not be able to tell the customers, you could chase up other legal avenues to contest the court order - even though you'd probably lose in the end (according to this doc at least) - and that's what the FBI is trying to avoid. Hence, they reassure the companies involved of complete confidentiality regarding their involvement to make the case go smoother.

Scummy, innit?

I can attest to this. I've seen these orders.

Not true.. the old Clinton era law states that after 30 to 90 days FBI has to tell someone that they asked for records.

Your information is seriously out of date. The PATRIOT act takes precedence, and it famously authorized gag orders where the people under surveillance cannot be told that their information was requested by law enforcement.

In other words: The only way we can obtain this information is to not tell what what information we're obtaining.

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