It’s not like I have much to hide with a life as boring as mine, but I’m still infuriated that major telecommunications companies are just rolling over to government requests for information. I fully support anti-terrorist surveillance, but who’s watching the watchers? Since I believe we must maintain appropriate checks and balances on the gathering of information to prevent concentration of power leading to abuses, and I believe that the debate on what’s appropriate must be open and public, I supported the ACLU’s call for letters to AT&T & Verizon regarding reports that they’ve handed over private customer information to the NSA without specific subpoenas:
Dear Edward Whitacre, CEO, AT&T:
As an AT&T residential customer (local & long distance telephone + DSL service) via your merger with SBC, I am disturbed by media reports that AT&T provides the National Security Agency with access to the communication records of its customers.
I understand that a group of AT&T shareholders is attempting to put discussion of this issue on the agenda at the next AT&T shareholder meeting but that AT&T is attempting to obstruct that effort by appealing to the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to block a proposed shareholder resolution.
I am writing to ask that AT&T stop attempting to obstruct a vote on the proposed shareholder resolution and allow a full discussion of this privacy issue, which I regard as central to the future of the United States as a free nation.
As your customer, I not only expect you to refrain from sharing my communications with anyone else, including the government, except through legal means expressly authorized by Congressional Acts and the Constitution, but I further expect you to be honest and forthcoming about your policies with regard to government requests for private customer information.