[Dewayne-Net] For one company, FISA wiretaps carry a $1K

Dewayne Hendricks dewayne at warpspeed.com
Tue Oct 23 04:02:36 PDT 2007


[Note:  This item comes from reader Ken DiPietro.  DLH]

For one company, FISA wiretaps carry a $1K pricetag

10/16/2007 @ 10:14 am

Filed by Nick Juliano
Although the scope of surveillance conducted under the Foreign  
Intelligence Surveillance Act remains shrouded in secrecy, newly  
disclosed documents show the costs one company charges the government  
to eavesdrop on customers.

Comcast, which is among the nation's largest telecommunication  
companies, charges $1,000 to install a FISA wiretap and $750 for each  
additional month authorities want to keep an eye on suspects,  
according to the company's Handbook for Law Enforcement. Secrecy News  
obtained the document and published it Monday.

"I was actually surprised that this was such a routine transaction  
that it would have a set fee," said Steven Aftergood, director of the  
Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

Aftergood, who runs the Secrecy News blog, told RAW STORY that the  
Comcast document was the only one he has seen outlining wiretap  
procedures and costs, so he couldn't compare Comcast's fees with  
those charged by other telecoms.

The Comcast handbook says the company will comply with legal requests  
from federal, state and local authorities to monitor the  
communications of criminal suspects, and the company notes legal  
ambiguity surrounding some of the more controversial tools that have  
emerged since Sept. 11, 2001.

The manual says an FBI agent must hand deliver National Security  
Letters to Comcast's headquarters in Philadelphia.

"Upon receipt Comcast will handle all documents with the appropriate  
care and security as required by law," the handbook says. "Attention  
must be paid to the various court proceedings in which the legal  
status of such requests is at issue."

Aftergood acknowledged that the handbook doesn't do much by way of  
establishing the scope of FISA surveillance or NSLs.

"I think it's more or an interesting nugget" of information,"  
Aftergood said. "Even if there are let's say 100 or 200 $1,000  
payments (for FISA intercepts) over the course of a year, I think  
those would be indistinguishable from the larger revenue stream."

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