Big corporations work hand-in-hand with Big Brother.
A New York Times article published over the weekend revealed just how closely AT&T cooperates with NSA spying. According to documents obtained by the paper from Edward Snowden, the telecom giant gave the spy agent access to “billions” of emails that flowed across domestic networks.
The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.”
The NSA called its relationship with AT&T “highly collaborative.” Another document praised the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”
Of course, AT&T isn’t the only company in bed with Big Brother. Other documents revealed that Verizon also cooperates with certain surveillance programs.
It became clear to OffNow that telecommunications companies cooperate with the NSA and other surveillance agencies as the original version of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act began moving through state legislatures in 2104. The bill included provisions that would have prohibited any company cooperating with warrantless surveillance from bidding on state contracts. The provisions were designed to force companies to make a decision: work for the spies, or work for the state.
Big telecom companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Cox Communications aggressively opposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in several states. In Arizona, corporate giants worked through the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and directly lobbied legislators to oppose the bill. These companies continued to oppose the legislation, even after their lobbyists were told corporate provisions would be removed. Telecoms effectively killed the bill in the Grand Canyon State. (More on corporate opposition to the Fourth Amendment Protection Act HERE.)
Why would these companies so vehemently oppose these bills if they weren’t actively involved in spying? If they had no hand in it, the legislation would not have impacted them at all.
Thanks to these latest Snowden documents, we now have conclusive proof that our suspicions were well-founded.
The extent of the cooperation boggles the mind. Consider just this one revelation.
In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after ‘a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,’ according to an internal agency newsletter.”
Federal surveillance depends both on state government and corporate cooperation. The OffNow plan seeks to undermine both, by prohibiting state resources to agencies engaged in warrantless surveillance and creating incentives to stop corporations from assisting the spies.
After corporate lobbies effectively killed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in several states, OffNow removed corporate provisions form the model legislation and created a separate bill addressing corporate actors. The CHOICE Act throws the ball into a company’s court, forcing it to choose: do business with the NSA and support its rights violating operation, or refuse to provide such support and do business with the state.
Designed to work along with the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, the CHOICE Act prohibits any company voluntarily providing direct support to the NSA, or any other federal agency engaged in illegal spying, from entering into contracts with the state.
It should be abundantly clear at this point that the federal government will never willingly rein in its spy programs. We are well on the way fulfilling Frank Church’s prophetic pronouncement that U.S. government surveillance could lead to “total tyranny.”
Contact your state representatives today and encourage them to introduce the Fourth Amendment Protection Act and the Choice Act.
For more information on corporations cooperating with NSA spying, click HERE.