Sunday, February 17, 2008

Verizon Spying Law

Bush and the Republicans are pushing for the extension of the law that gives telecommunication companies immunity. The way I see it, the only way some one would need 'immunity' from the law would be only those entities that may be violating it.

The Bush Administration argues that it 'needs' an extension of the law to fight terrorism. The fact is, the law provides for the government to tap a phone if it gets a wiretap order first. Allowances are made for 'emergency' situations as long as the governemnt agrees to get one later.

I worry less about the activities of Al Queda's phone bills that I do about the Bush Administration and its henchmen of spying and harassing callers who may be contributors to the Democrats or to create an 'enemies list by using phone records such as 900 numbers against callers. One entire room was made available at ATT in San Francisco to government agents to pore over in the guise of 'national security'. This kind of setup is too easily abused.

The recent walkout by the GOP is to be taken for what it is - a political publicity stunt. They claim it was for 'principle' into the waiting arms of camera crewa. Bush claimed he would postpone his trip to Africa if Congress would extend the law last wekend. Surprisingly, Nancy Pelosi stood her ground and Bush took off. Maybe the Democrats are finally ready to act like they have a pair.

The last time there was this much collaboration between the corporate world and the government against its citizens was from 1922 - 1943 under Benito Mussolini - the name of this corporate complicity and immunity -- Fascism.

We have laws in the US, as in any serious democracy, that citizens privacy be protected unless a 'compelling reason' is shown that a caller is an imediate threat to the public. Some of the companies have stopped cooperating with the FBI, not out of the public interest, but because the FBI stopped paying its bills to the companies.

I briefly worked for Verizon, only got as far as the training room, but when I applied for the job they wanted 16 PAGES of information about me - information that they could find out about me after I joined teh company -- but they wanted all this info before I walked in the door and of course, EVEYTHING had to be filled out, so the computer could parse everything. I had to account for all periods of unemployment and why I was unemployed (Because I haven't been hired yet), going abck for at least 7 years including how many jaywalking tickets I may have gotten. Why is this relevant to the job? What do they do with the info once you are no longer on their payroll? In fact, I got a call from the Verizon Compliance officer about an alleged 'harassment incident' that may or may not have taken place while I was there. The problem? They called me - meaning they still had my information of file 10 months after I stoped working there.

Do they egt to keep my personal info and past history for ever and who do they share it with? Can I ask not to ahve the info shared with the government unless they get a court order first?

We al need a phone -- but we don't need a phone company spying on us for a government and its policies we oppose.


Waffles anyone?

John McCain has been going around telling people that waterboarding is torture and that the US ought to abandon it. He claims that the Army's Code of Conduct forbids it. But at the same time, he calims the manual should be more 'flexible', in other words, it should give the Army the authority to use waterboarding. Will he say he was 'against it before I voted for it?" by vetoing a bill that would ahve outlowed it?


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