A Key Part of RuppRoge’s Fake Dragnet Fix Reform: Pay the Telecoms

Here’s an interesting “reform” in the RuppRoge’s Fake Dragnet Fix. It pays the telecoms.

COMPENSATION AND ASSISTANCE.–The Government shall compensate, at the prevailing rate, an electronic communications service provider for providing records in accordance with directives issued pursuant to [their bill].

Section 215 does not include such a payment provision. And while the first two phone dragnet orders included provision for such payments, that was probably illegal.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the government has found some way to pay the telecoms, either through added payments for AT&T’s Hemisphere program or gifts in kind. (Though given the timing of DOJ’s suit against Sprint for over-billing, I do wonder whether the government is retaliating for something.) Telecoms don’t spy for free, so I’m sure they’ve been getting paid, illegally, for the last 8 years of dragnet spying they’ve been doing.

But the lack of such provision in Section 215 should have limited the scope of the dragnet. It should have required that requests be so narrow no telecom was going to send big bills to the government every month. And it presumably made the telecoms (well, except for AT&T, which never met a spying request it didn’t love) less willing to interpret orders from the government expansively.

The inclusion of such a compensation clause in the RuppRoge “reform” makes it even more likely this dragnet will expand with the now well-oiled willingness of the telecoms to go above and beyond the letter of the request.

Which is presumably just how the NSA wants it to be.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

4 replies
  1. der says:

    – “I’m sure the government has found some way to pay the telecoms, either through added payments for AT&T’s Hemisphere program or gifts in kind.”

    Exactly, and why Mark Zuckerberg’s “outraged” chat with the Decider Big O is all for the show. As I see it the only way we can be sure the Secret Government is doing what they promise but pretend to be doing is with the Legislative Branch appointing and funding an independent auditor, one who can hire and pay the best hackers and who is not subject to Dutch’s and his friends reach.

  2. What Constitution? says:

    So, basically, this is what is referred to — was it Groucho or George Burns? — as “only haggling over price?” Certainly we should all be grateful that the providers are at least being assured of getting paid “the prevailing rate” for participating in illegal surveillance.

  3. Pajarito says:

    So I pay for my telecom service. Then my government pays using my tax money, for my information created by using my service. So I pay twice for trampling my constitution–is this that win-win people so often mention?

    • chronicle says:

      quote”So I pay twice for trampling my constitution–is this that win-win people so often mention?”unquote

      Welcome to the land of USG euphemisms..ie Win/Win=bend over or die from a bullet to the temple.

Comments are closed.