Friday, May 12, 2006

It's okay, we didn't tell them your name

Got some time today? Call your phone company.

In the wake of yesterday's USA Today story. I recommend that everyone who is a customer of AT&T, Verizon, & Bell South engage their customer service representatives in a polite conversation about whether your phone records have been turned over to the NSA. (Jessica Holzer in Forbes considers the legality, noting, "it is striking that the three telcos, AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon, handed the information over sheep-like to the spooks without pressing for warrants or court approval. Only Qwest Communications (nyse: Q - news - people ) balked, in spite of the NSA's arm-twisting.")

My carrier's rep tried to reassure me that it's okay because only the phone numbers have been revealed, but no personal information such as names and Social Security numbers. (What an outrageous answer! Even I can do a reverse phone number lookup over the Web. Surely the scary-looking bald general has that technology.)

I have three questions:

  1. Anyone know whether their violation of the 1934 Communications act is grounds for me to end my contract early without penalty?
  2. Can QWEST, the sole hold-out against the NSA request, possibly have enough capacity to handle the folks who will now want to establish service with them?
  3. Skype, anyone?
(cross-posted and attracting comments in my Kos Diary)