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Wiretapping Lawsuit Against AT&T Dismissed 597

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hollow-sound-of-justice dept.
BalanceOfJudgement writes "A major victory by the federal government was won today when a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against AT&T for providing phone records to the federal government. From the article: 'The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities'" Not to be confused with the EFF case, this case was filed by the ACLU on behalf of author Studs Terkel and other activists who argued that their constitutional rights had been violated by the actions of AT&T and the NSA.
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Wiretapping Lawsuit Against AT&T Dismissed

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  • RIP America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:45PM (#15781056)
    RIP America, good things never last.
    • by Travoltus (110240) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:39PM (#15781297) Journal
      What have you got to hide, citizen?

      Privacy is for terrorists. Law abiding, God fearing citizens should be proud of people knowing what they're doing. Only wicked people hide their activities.

      Would you rather be free or be safe from terror? (end right wing satire)
      • by buswolley (591500) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:54PM (#15781562) Journal
        What's funny about this is that the White House wants to keep their activities private, but not ours. Did I say funny? Scary.
        • What's funny about this is that the White House wants to keep their activities private, but not ours. Did I say funny? Scary.

          Nah, that's the _republican_ whitehouse.
          Are you forgetting...?
          Women who willingly, even enthusiastically give the president blow jobs should be part of the public record, because the people have the right to know, but powerful industrial representatives who meet with the administration in secret should have the meetings, the attendees, the topics and effects of those meetings kept sec
    • Re:RIP America (Score:5, Insightful)

      by freakinangry (991056) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:49AM (#15781775)
      Everyone Complains! But no one does anything to change things. We are still on the same path to a very unpleasant future, moving faster and faster to our destination. The reason we keep going down the same path is because not enough people give a SH!T. We all sit behind our computers and type away, send off emails, and if we are very radical.. then we might even discuss it in person with another human being. As long as we are all complacent, NOTHING WILL CHANGE! Until we got off our a55es, the ruling party of Republicrats will continue biz as usual, slowly consolidating their stranglehold on power... SLOWLY TURNING UP THE TEMPERATURE on us POOR FROGS! I guess as long as we can come home to watch TV, check our email.. everything is fine and dandy, cuz we can still post our rants on Slashdot. Darn that there darn evil gubment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:46PM (#15781060)
    One has to ask one's self who the true enemies of this country are.
    • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:09PM (#15781162)
      That questsion is easy. The enemy of the coutry is terrorists.

      Terrorists are amongst us, they are in our community, in our schools, our churches, they are our neighbors.
      Terrorists could be sitting next to you right now packed full of explosives waiting to blow away your god given freedom.

      You make someone scared enough of something and they will let you do anything to help them.

      • by FLEB (312391)
        Terrorists could be sitting next to you right now packed full of explosives waiting to blow away your god given freedom.

        Just think. What if the terrorists become invisible? What if they already are? The scenario you point out might not be far from the truth. I'd better start waving my flag around and see if it hits any invisible terrorists.

        My god. What if they're not even here? Those would be the worst, sneakiest terrorists of all!
      • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:31PM (#15781485) Homepage Journal
        I'd rather take my chances of having a terrorist live next door than to sacrifice my constitutionally-protected liberties. Otherwise, what the hell makes America better than anywhere else? What good is it to "protect democracy" when we actually don't have our freedom any more?

        Vote. Vote wisely. Vote out incumbents.
        • by hany (3601)
          Vote. Vote wisely. Vote out incumbents.

          Question: What does it take to "vote wisely" if all the candidates you can choose from are "bad"?

    • Eastasia (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brandonY (575282)
      It's always been Eastasia. Eurasia is our friend. Best keep that in mind for the two minute hate.
  • 4 words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:47PM (#15781070)
    Vote with your dollars.
  • Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SideshowBob (82333) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:51PM (#15781081)
    Admitting that our government spies on it's own citizens 'give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities'?

    Propaganda levels are approaching Soviet era Moscow.
    • Before the grammar nazis jump on my case.
    • Re:Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:14PM (#15781187)
      Not only that, but the rest of the world is watching and drawing its own conclusions.
      • Re:Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:48PM (#15781542)
        Not only that, but the rest of the world is watching and drawing its own conclusions.

        Whilst they head right down the same path.

        If you think the EU will somehow be different, think again. All of this is happening in the entire world. Soon the only countries which aren't themselves police states will be the puppets of police states (because they won't have the power to refuse).

        This is happening throughout the world because the same people are behind it: the people who run the big multinational corporations and who also conveniently control the mass media. They want fascism because fascism is by definition friendly to big business, and thus to them. They have far more influence, and thus control, over all governments than we ever could. Those governments control all the guns that matter -- their firepower outranks that of the citizens (even the well-armed ones) by many, many thousands to one. And history has shown countless times that those in the military have no reservations whatsoever about turning their guns against the citizenry.

        Face it: we've lost. The entire world is descending into darkness and despair, and this time there's no climbing out of it for a really long time (centuries, perhaps even millenia). Police states almost never collapse from within: it almost always takes an outside influence to topple them. That can't happen if the entire world is under the control of police states.

        At least the patriots of the American Revolution had a fighting chance of winning, thanks to the technological circumstances of the time. But now, there's no chance at all.

        :-(

        • Re:Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BalanceOfJudgement (962905) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:33AM (#15781929) Homepage
          Face it: we've lost. The entire world is descending into darkness and despair, and this time there's no climbing out of it for a really long time (centuries, perhaps even millenia). Police states almost never collapse from within: it almost always takes an outside influence to topple them. That can't happen if the entire world is under the control of police states.

          At least the patriots of the American Revolution had a fighting chance of winning, thanks to the technological circumstances of the time. But now, there's no chance at all.
          I have, sadly, come to much the same conclusions.

          Just a few years ago I think there was a possibility it could swing either way...

          And then the American People elected one of the worst men in history to the office of President. If Bush's blatant horror had been visited only on Americans, the world may have hope; but he and others have succeeded in convincing the rest of the world to follow.

          People with power only ever want one thing... more power. And in an age when a single word can kill a million people, there's little anyone can do to fight. That's the fundamental difference between now, and all past revolutions... the power to literally destroy the world never existed in the hands of those being fought.

          Men like Ray Kurzweil talk about the 'technological singularity', the point at which technological advancement becomes so accelerated that it breaks all possibility for prediction. But there's another singularity we're heading for: cultural singularity, a point at which it becomes impossible for our society ever to change its direction, even if everyone wanted to.


          G'Quan wrote:
          'There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.'


          There's only one way this will end...

          In fire.
      • Re:Laughable (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tom (822) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @03:59AM (#15782290) Homepage Journal
        Not only that, but the rest of the world is watching and drawing its own conclusions.

        It is. I know a fairly good number of highly technically skilled people - including myself - who are staying away from the USA and are turning down invitations to speak at conferences, coach upper-level management and other opportunities.
        My current policy is that if my skills are so valuable that you want the entire board of directors to attend for two full days, then you can fly them somewhere outside USA borders as well. Canada would do, or a nice place in the carribean.
        I'm not going to enter the USA for the forseable future, and neither are many of my friends.

    • Re:Laughable (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tftp (111690)
      Just if you are curious, Soviet era Moscow maintained the following propaganda:
      • That the West is supporting corrupt dictatorships when convenient
      • That the West is a decadent, post-capitalist, imperialist society desirous of world domination
      • That the NATO is aggressive and wants to expand [zmag.org] to the borders of USSR (now Russia)
      • That the Western radio and television are a mindless infotainment (pot/kettle here)
      • That Leonard Peltier [freepeltier.org] is a political prisoner, among others
      • That Move bombing [npr.org] was an act of government-
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:52PM (#15781086)
    My *&$@ing jaw dropped when I saw the headline. 'I THOUGHT THE JUDGE JUST WENT FORWARD WITH THE CASE!!'... Halfway down the article 'Not to be confused with the 500 other stories this month about AT&T Lawsuits by the EFF'....
     
    ...I was about to start a riot.
  • by growse (928427) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:53PM (#15781094) Homepage
    Ok, so someone sues AT&T for providing the government with data, and the judge rules that by even revealing whether this is the case or not would give away information about how the government gets it's data. Does anyone else think that's slighty worrying? Now this has happened, no-one can ever sue any firm that may or may not be involved with helping the government out with intelligence, because the information resulting from such a case would lead to information becoming public domain about how the government performs its intelligence ops. So we're all screwed.
    • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:16PM (#15781197) Homepage Journal
      Well on the bright side, this was not a ruling, it was a dismissal of a case. It might set precedent, but I dont think precedent is used for determining if a case is valid for judging. On the other hand, the government was a third party in this dispute, so by denying the ruling based on the government the judge has made a situation where the only just thing to do is to rule in favor of the victims. Too bad justice isn't in the system any more.
    • More to the point, if I commit any civil offense (ignoring criminal implications for the moment) and get sued, does that mean that the case can't be publicized or proceed until the government says it's OK? Doesn't that give the government utter cart blanche?
  • Grrr (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Kano (13027) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:54PM (#15781102) Homepage Journal
    Has this judge ever even read the constitution?

    There's no out clause in the fourth amendment. It doesn't end with "Unless, the government wants to keep it secret."

    LK
  • The phrase "a major victory was won by the federal government" was written tongue in cheek. I don't consider this a good thing at all.
  • Invincible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShimmyShimmy (692324) <bplennon@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:57PM (#15781111) Homepage Journal
    There really is a fundamental flaw in this system.

    I am doing something.
    You ask what I'm doing.
    You say it's illegal.
    If I tell you, it will expose secrets.
    I don't expose secrets.
    You don't know what I am doing.
    You can't tell me what I am doing is wrong, because you don't know what I am doing.
    I am doing something. Too bad.


    How exactly is it that the government can set up a system that is completely impervious to moral question? Keep in mind, this really is the NSA's wrongdoing, but it's more or less impossible to sue the government. Now, the government is saying you can't sue them either!?
    What if the NSA was secretly executing suspected terrorists without warrants, due process, etc? Oh hell, let's say they were hiring a private (non-government) corporation to do that for them. It would obviously be illegal, but how would stopping that be any different? Someone would say "you can't just kill people, it's illegal", and the NSA would say "you can't ask that question, it would expose state secrets". And the NSA would continue to kill "terrorists".
    Shouldn't this program be immediately halted while the morality (oh hell, legality) of it is in question?
    • To expand on this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris...travers@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:06PM (#15781147) Homepage Journal
      There is a concept in our Constitution which is generally called "separation of powers." Each of our branches of government is supposed to have specific and limited powers which are used in in part to further the common good and in part to keep the other branches from destroying our republican system (not to be confused with the Republican party which seems intent on destroying our republican system. Newspeak anyone?).

      Anyway, the question is whether allegiance to our current government ought to supercede our allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America which defines our system of civil liberty.
    • Actually, your comparison is not quite correct. It may be OK between two private persons, but "I" in your example is actually the government, which is supposed to be responsible to the people. Generally, governments should only do things they are allowed to by the law, unlike private persons, who can do whatever they want unless it's forbidden by the law.
    • Re:Invincible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:24PM (#15781237) Journal
      How exactly is it that the government can set up a system that is completely impervious to moral question? Keep in mind, this really is the NSA's wrongdoing, but it's more or less impossible to sue the government. Now, the government is saying you can't sue them either!?
      What should be happening is this thing called "Congressional Oversight"

      Congress has the authority to investigate essentially anything they damn well please.

      Guess what hasn't been happening throughout much of the Bush Administration.

      You'd think Congress would be investigating, if for no other reason than to say
      "Concerned citizens, we have looked into your complaints and everything is fine"
      • Re:Invincible (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kimvette (919543)
        Yes but what we have now is what one ends up with when all three branches are controlled by one party. Get out and vote in November.
    • Worse than that. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:19PM (#15781438) Homepage Journal

      You can't tell me what I am doing is wrong, because you don't know what I am doing.

      No, this is not a fishing expedition.

      In this case, we know what they are doing and that it's wrong. A credible witness has come forward and told us about wiretapping, which violates the fourth amendment by violating your right to be secure in your home and private papers. What's missing is proof of the extent of the crime. It's not if they were doing something wrong or what that wrong was, GWB has admitted it, it's how much wrong was done.

      Shutting down the investigation for "security" is outrageous and disgusting. They might as well tell us, "if we have to get search warrents to violate you, the terrorists will win." There are laws against domestic spying and they are being violated.

  • either way (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spykemail (983593) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:01PM (#15781125) Homepage
    I really don't have all of the details so I can't actually say for sure whether this lawsuit would have uncovered information that could have decreased the United States' ability to combat terrorists, however, the truth is I DON'T CARE. There are a lot of things that COULD be done to increase security in the States, but many of them would be worse than the very things they would seek to eliminate. From what I know I would argue that this is probably one of them, though again, I don't know the true details. In a free country you simply can't have allegedly illegal government programs that aren't subject to claims of illegality. There's an argument to be made for suspending such things in times of true emergency, distant conflicts with various terrorist organizations likely to last indefinitely not being one.

    More than likely there is an extensive spying program with relatively poor and easily avoidable detection methods and that's the reason it is being so well protected. Only the atmosphere of fear, uncertainty, and doubt is helping them "fight" terror, the program itself probaby doesn't do much besides producing false positives. If the details were made public it would almost certainly be cancelled even if it was legal.
    • From what I have read (again largely informed speculation by international news magazines), it probably isn't so easy to circumvent. More likely, this is secret because people know that there is no way this is legal but there is no obvious alternative.
  • What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khayman80 (824400) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:01PM (#15781127) Homepage Journal
    I'm very disturbed at this ruling. It seems like the slippery slope we're riding on, that of trading freedom for security, is not going anywhere good. But, more than being disturbed, I'm confused about two things.

    (1) Quote: "He also said Terkel and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which sought class-action status, had not shown that their own records had been provided to the government. As a result, they lacked standing to sue the government, he said."

    Okay... this lawsuit is fundamentally about secret wiretapping, right? So how can the judge say "you don't KNOW that you were wiretapped, so you can't sue" with a straight face? _NO ONE_ knows whether or not they have been spied on. THAT'S THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT!

    (2) How can the judge possibly say that "news reports amounted to speculation and in no way constituted official confirmation that phone records had been turned over." Isn't Bush getting in front of a podium and denouncing the liberal media for revealing state secrets enough of an "official confirmation"?

    I'm partially bitching about the sorry state of affairs here in the USA, but I'm also asking a serious question: Is this shit for real? Is there anyone, anywhere, who wants to defend it? Seriously, I know there are some hard core conservatives here on slashdot. I'd actually like to see how some of you view this ruling... does ANYONE want to defend it?

    • Re:What?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:32PM (#15781268)

      Let me disclaim some things before I make a comment, mostly in the devils advocate sense. I'm not sure how I feel about this decision, but I know how I feel about Bush and his domestic spying programs and I hate them both. That said:

      So how can the judge say "you don't KNOW that you were wiretapped, so you can't sue" with a straight face?

      Well, because I think that's how the law works. If I punch you in the face and break a bone, your third cousin twice removed doesn't get to sue me for medical expenses related to it. The person suing has to be the person who was wronged (or have legal status to file on their behalf--such as guardians in the case of minors, or people with power of attorney). This is the same thing that happened in the whole "the Pledge is unconstitutional" ruling a year or two ago. The Supreme Court threw the ruling out because the father, suing on behalf of his child, did not have legal custody at the time. Is it a legal cop-out? Well, yes, but the legal system is also a very formal establishmentwith very set rules.

      In this case, it's obviously a harder thing to understand. Yeah, it's about a secret spying program--but do these guys who were suing actually have any reason to believe their calls in specific were actually monitored/recorded? I guess they could admit talking to their terrorist friends and that would probably give them the status to sue, but it would also get them into a bit of hot water. Failing that, CAN they even have any such reasonable belief?

      Does that mean there's no recourse to this sort of action? No. Anybody charged based in any part with evidence obtained through this program would have the status to sue. Likewise, Congress could step in and put a stop to it, including, if they had the spine, demanding all such evidence gathered to date through the program be destroyed. (Of course that would be "helping the terrorists" so most Congressmen wouldn't do it.)

      Does it suck? Well, yeah, it does, but that's the nature of the beast when we're dealing with anything clandestine. Otherwise any wackjob who wants to could claim some massive government conspiracy is being perpetuated, with absolutely no proof, and tie up the courts trying to force them to reveal it.

      And no, I'm not saying that's what this is.

      Isn't Bush getting in front of a podium and denouncing the liberal media for revealing state secrets enough of an "official confirmation"?

      I would think so, but did the plaintiffs actually argue this point during their case?

      Honestly, the "you don't have the status to sue" part of the ruling didn't bother me. The whole "OMG NATIONAL SECURITY!!!" thing was what really rubbed me the wrong way. This has to be one of the worst kept secrets in politics today. If any harm would actually be done to national security by exposing it, it's already been done -- and in my opinion, it's greatly overshadowed by the fact that this program is very likely illegal to begin with. Sorry, G-Dub, you don't get to re-write laws at whim from your study--and that includes your bullshit "signing statements."

    • How could someone who considers him/herself to be a true conservative support such a radical attrition of civil rights? One is seriously tempted to quote from J. Scalia's dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld where he argues vehemently that the courts ought not to be the agents of silent attrition of deeply held Constitutional rights.

      Just as Rome started out with the first Triumverate (of Julius Caesar, Cassius, and Mark Anthony) and ended up eventually with the depravity of Nero and Caligula, so too we are following down this path if we don't take sufficient corrective action now.

      No true conservative could defend these trends. That is, unless that "conservative" upholds Caligula or Nero as a great example of good governance...
    • Re:What?! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:41PM (#15781306) Homepage Journal
      this lawsuit is fundamentally about secret wiretapping, right?

      Wrong. This is not about wiretapping. This is about data mining. The wiretapping is a separate issue. This issue is about raw aggregate data. It's essentially the data on the second page of your phone bill.

      Whether or not you feel this is wrong, it is NOT wiretapping.
  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:08PM (#15781157) Homepage
    because lord knows those "enemies" didn't see all the press about this...
  • If I were a telephone provider looking for a market niche I would start advertising my decision not to participate in the government's illegal spying program _right now_. Of course, I would be very surprised if any of the monopoly-prone government sucks ups actually do it. You have to admit that there are a lot of people that would flock to such a provider and not a lot of people who would specifically avoid them. If the government really wanted to get devious they could encourage such a move then illegally
  • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:13PM (#15781181) Homepage Journal
    The really baffling thing about this case is that the government somehow made the argument that terrorists, given uncertainty about whether or not the government is snooping in this way, will assume that it isn't happening.

    Any competent terrorist has almost certainly been operating under the assumption that this already happens for years. I mean, they're being hunted by the world's biggest military power, and we're supposed to think they don't even take basic precautions?
  • Let me see if I've got this right: You don't have standing to sue to find out if you were wiretapped unless you can prove you were wiretapped.

    Hmm.
  • by McFadden (809368) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:17PM (#15781202)
    Bin Laden and his men must be laughing in their caves.


    I remember once hearing the proud words of a US firefighter who was involved in the Ground Zero cleanup, saying something along the lines of "the terrorists will never take away our freedom".


    And he was right. It took the Bush Administration to achieve that one.


    Sits back and waits to modded down by neo-con fanatics.

    • Mod parent up. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by WhiteWolf666 (145211)
      Mod parent up.

      What kind of moronic, head-stuck-up-his-ass dyed in the wool IDIOT modded parent down?

      Are there genuinely assholes that believe in this security through obscurity? If so, I hope you still defend my right to arms, so that when the day comes, and push comes to shove, I'll be able to go down fighting.

      This ruling is absurd. The invocation of state secrets, an absurd doctrine, in such a mundane case, is absurd. This level of monitoring is absurd, as is SBC (AT&T Reborn! Empire Reborn!) playing
  • by gkhan1 (886823) <oskarsigvardsson@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:19PM (#15781221)

    ...is going fairly well. I cannot say that I've follow this closely from across the pond, but a recent Slate article [slate.com] praises the judge for not falling for the government line, doing exactly the opposite of what this other judge did (ie he said that the "We have to be careful for our national security!" stuff is a bunch of hooey).

    And here I was lead to believe (by various slashdotters, you know who you are!) that when it comes to litigation, the EFF was nigh incompetent. Looks like they're doing better than the ACLU, although it might just be a different judge thing.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:22PM (#15781232) Homepage

    If the Republicans had an ounce of integrity they'd impeach Bush and Cheney themeselves. But there's no fear the party of incompetent hypocrites would ever do the right thing for the country. They're too busy blaming other people for the ills of the nation.

    Hey, maybe monitoring everyone's phone calls, they really have figured out the vast liberal conspiracy.

    UnAmerican asshats.

  • Too bad its gone all supermodel (skinny, that is), but it had a story about a Lisp app to process billions of call detail records months ago. And you don't get billions of records by spying on a selected group, even if it numbers thousands of people.

    Lisp wins again; too bad freedom loses. http://www.franz.com/resources/educational_resourc es/white_papers/ [franz.com]

  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:27PM (#15781252) Homepage Journal
    and other activists who argued that their constitutional rights had been violated

    Have these people read the US Constitution? There may be a right to privacy, but it is not enumerated nor implied in that document. The closest you can get is the ninth and tenth ammendments, which are the two that are NEVER honored.

    The core problem is that privacy is a vague (and very modern) concept. If I give someone a phonebook with your number in it, have I violated your privacy? How much worse is it if it's an unlisted number? Or if I give it to the government instead of to my neighbor? Or if I'm a phone company instead of an individual? Because privacy is such a nebulous property, the answers to these questions are anything but clear. The closest the courts have gotten to a definition (in the absence of anything in the Constitition itself) is the not-quite-so-vague concept of "expectation of privacy". But with the every changing technological landscape, expectations get pretty hard to pin down.

    Senator Barbara Boxer regularly spams my inbox with junk. How did she get my address? Why isn't the local Registrar of Voters being sued for giving her my personal information? Why isn't Yahoo being sued for selling my account information to the highest bidder? Why isn't my old landlord being sued for telling my creditors where I moved? What makes that any of that different from what AT&T did?

    AT&T didn't hand over any voice tapes of your private conversations. They might have handed over the times a call was place from your number to your mother's number, in aggregate with millions of other such records. To everyone the former is a privacy violation, to to many the latter is not. Simply because the line is very fuzzy and wide.

    I'm not arguing that there isn't a right to privacy. Rather I am arguing that you're on very loose ground arguing over a constitutional right to privacy. If you think the situation is going to improve, you're sadly mistaken. I strongly suspect technology will make privacy obsolete.
    • by protohiro1 (590732) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:04PM (#15781392) Homepage Journal
      I believe the amendment at question here is the FOURTH:
      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
      This doesn't seem ambiguous to me. Its not about a right to privacy. Its about the fact that the government needs probable cause and a warrant. This isn't the same as the spam in the inbox or your credit history (which you consented to sharing anyway). The issue here is that the ISP allegedly let the government tap your phone/spy on your internet traffic without probable cause or a warrant. A better analogy would be your landlord letting the FBI into your apartment with no warrant.
  • I am curious as to the identity and class of the "terrorist" who would benifit from said information. To benifit the would have to have use for said information, and not currently have access to said information. I can't imagine many groups fall within the intersection of those categories. Oh well, not my homeland.
  • The Enemy Is Us (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    And watching the court decide not to ask AT&T whether they're illegally spying on us could give residents of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities. If we were paying attention [p2pnet.net].
  • Ignoring the civil liberties aspect.
    Ignoring the government secrecy aspect.
    Ignoring that the NSA is legally bound not to conduct domestic surveillance.

    Those are some pretty FUCKING big pills to swallow, but I'll pretend, hypothetically, that I can let those things go. *gulp*.

    The government's argument is this:
    1. We are not conducting such surveillance, nor have we done anything illegal.
    2. The reason we have not done anything illegal is because you cannot demonstrate that AT&T provided records to the government.
    3. Forcing the government to provide such evidence might alert the terrorists that this surveillance program, which does NOT exist, is watching them, making us less safe.
    4. Therefore, this case should be dismissed.

    These statements are not congruent. There's no defensible argument here. One of the government's position is that AT&T did not provide records to the government. If that didn't occur, then there is no potential security risk. The entire government "reponse" is that we aren't doing any surveillance, but proving that may, potentially, alert Terrorists to the surveillance we are doing.

    Frankly, I'm depressed we have a Republican Congress, because this kind of outrageous, unconstitutional, illegal, dictatorial, fascist behavior, layered in hypocrisy, deserves impeachment .

    We impeached a President because an intern blew him, and he was misleading about it in Congressional Hearings.

    Bush has, and continues to, lie about the existing of a ubiquitous domestic surveillance program that is without a doubt illegal, and his justification is, "Because I'm the boss, you all are children, and you can't handle the truth"

    You cannot have it both ways. You cannot protect the secrecy of an illegal surveillance program under the grounds that it "doesn't exist". I hope, Mr. Bush, that the Heaven and Hell you believe in are real, so that you may burn in the lowest levels of hell, that reserved for traitors.

    I say this as a person who supports the war in Iraq, I say this as a staunch conservative. Rot in Hell, Mr. President.
  • by geekotourist (80163) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @10:49PM (#15781339) Journal
    The EFF's January 2006 Class Action Lawsuit [eff.org] was the first lawsuit over this, and they're still going strong with their major victory last week.

    Slashdot readers, more than just about anyone else, understand why the EFF's work is so important. YRO, right?

    Got Encryption? [eff.org]

    Like that the Supreme Court upheld Betamax? [eff.org]

    Like your Broadcast-flag-free gear? [eff.org]

    But most Slashdot members haven't joined the EFF. The EFF is fighting organizations that are thousands of times the size of the EFF, and the EFF is winning- that's the sort of thing to make you think Join the EFF today [eff.org]. Someone has to pay for the EFF, and right now that someone isn't 98% of Slashdot.

    Yes, really. Slashdot has members in the high-hundred-thousands or low-millions. The EFF has nowhere near even 1/30th or 1/40th of that many members. 39 of 40 Slashdot members are relying on the donations of that 40th member to keep the EFF going. The 'Foundation' in Electronic Frontier Foundation doesn't mean 'trust fund.' It means 'you can make a tax deductable donation and that'll be helpful.'

    Did you like that the Communications Decency Act [eff.org]got killed?

    Remember how quickly Sony got slammed for their rootkit [eff.org]?

    Remember how long it took for non-technical people to understand how damaging the rootkit was? That's part of why the EFF is so important- they understand why the technical details matter so that they're ready when you call. But a small non-profit member-based organization [eff.org] depends on money from their members to run.

    Disclaimer- I support the EFF and I know many of the people there- the 23 people who make the EFF look like it's 10x the size it is.
  • by MECC (8478) * on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:16PM (#15781433)
    I don't think the bush admin or the right wing realize that the terrorists' goal is not to 'defeat us' but to spread confusion, fear, division, and dissarray. Getting us to give up our rights is a victory for them. If the rational for dismissing the lawsuit is that dismissing it denies the enemy even a partial victory or tool or them to use towards a some kind of advantage, such a dismissal does just the opposite. Dismissing the AT&T lawsuit hands one over to the terrorists. In a 'war on terror' where out enemy is not a nation, but an ideology, our only true weapon is how determined we are to adhere to our forefathers' vision of a nation based on the rights of its citizens. Even during an undeclared war.

    Any dictator can reign bombs and bullets, but only the truly brave can dare to defend the rights of the people when borders are threatened, and stand by the conviction of the idea that it is the people that are more important, rather than the government. And, if we perish under such a cause, then liberty is a thing too beautiful for the world to grasp, freedom too nobel for humanity to possess. We deserve to fall under the hand of evil, if we can't stand up for what is right.
    • I don't think the bush admin or the right wing realize that the terrorists' goal is not to 'defeat us' but to spread confusion, fear, division, and dissarray.

      I think they realize that perfectly well. You are presupposing that thwarting the terrorists' objectives is the primary goal of the Bush administration. If you instead assume that their objective is to maximize their own power and their cohorts' profit, then it becomes quite obvious that they get there fastest by playing into the terrorists' hands wi

  • 247 Years Ago... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:19PM (#15781443)
    "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Ben Franklin, 1759

    ie. We Are Screwed... and thank you so much for doing it in broad daylight.
  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:19PM (#15781444)
    'The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities'

    In other words, "adversaries of this country" can safely assume AT&T disclosed large quantities of telephone records. In the unlikely event that they didn't, our adversaries will surely and prudently prefer err on the side of caution.

    Citizens of this country, by contrast, have been denied even the semblance of justice, as their own government tramples over their rights.

    If that isn't victory for the "adversaries of this country" I don't know what would be.
  • Hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin.wick@gmail . c om> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:52PM (#15781556)
    The US has seen worse times in the past, from concentration camps for Japanese Americans in WWII [wikipedia.org], to the two sedition [wikipedia.org] acts [wikipedia.org], to the first and only use of nuclear weapons, deserved or not. The good news is that so far we've always managed to bounce back. It's possible that some day the masses will realize that we're heading the wrong direction... does anyone know of a way to hasten the coming of this day, or plan for what to do if it does not happen?
    • Re:Hope? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tom (822) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @03:46AM (#15782267) Homepage Journal
      Massive difference there, IMHO.

      Those examples are isolated cases of badness in an overall good, or at least perceived as good, country.

      Right now, the USA is perceived as a bad country by most of the rest of the world. In fact, the vast majority of europeans laugh out loud when you call other countries "axis of evil" or "rogue nations", because that fits yourself so much.

      Right now, there are isolated cases of goodness in an overall evil country. It's not a case of "bouncing back". You've destroyed about 50 years of reputation building in 5 years of Bush. You can't bounce back, you'll have to take the long way around and start from scratch. It'll be decades before the rest of the world trusts you again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:22AM (#15781655)
    Bin Laden wanted America to live in fear. To understand we are not free. 9-11 brought this country together, under horrible circumstances. But then Bush stepped in and finished what Bin Laden was trying to do.
  • TFO. (Score:3, Informative)

    by fuchsiawonder (574579) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:18AM (#15781883)
    The F***ing Opinion, for those that don't know acronyms, can be found on this page [uscourts.gov]. Case Number 1:06-cv-2837.

I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth. -- Neil Armstrong

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