Spying on you, it turns out, is lucrative!

Get ready.  Turns out that spying on Americans is a lucrative business.   Yes, it’s becoming its own “Industry”.   Soon we’ll have a Domestic Spying Lobby, Domestic Spying Foundations, Domestic Spying Majors at Universities.

All this time, I thought they did it because, well, they were evil.   You know, that whole “power corrupts” thing.   But no, it’s really pretty mundane anymore — you can sell the info that you get on your customers.   I guess companies have always done this, but instead of giving your phone number to annoying telemarketers, they are giving a record of your whereabouts, and everything you’ve ever said on the phone, to the fucking GOVERNMENT.

Here’s one little story about it:

Yahoo: Our spying policy would ‘shock’ customers

A little-noticed letter from Yahoo! to the US Marshals Service offers troubling insight into the surveillance policies of one of the Internet’s largest email providers.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details of Yahoo’s! policies allowing the Justice Department to request wiretaps of its users and the amount they charge US taxpayers per wiretap — the search engine leviathan declared in a 12-page letter that they couldn’t provide information on their approach because their pricing scheme would “shock” customers. The news was first reported by Kim Zetter at Wired.

“It is reasonable to assume from these comments that the [pricing] information, if disclosed, would be used to “shame” Yahoo! and other companies — and to “shock” their customers,” a lawyer for the company writes. “Therefore, release of Yahoo!’s information is reasonably likely to lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security, which is a competitive disadvantage for technology companies.”

Yahoo! also argues that because their price sheet for wiretaps was “voluntarily submitted” to the US Marshals Service, it is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act law.

Verizon, meanwhile, says (letter PDF) they can’t provide details on how much they charge for wiretaps because it would be “confusing.”

Hell, why can’t the Justice Department just come to us first?   I mean, if they wanted to buy a record of my e-mails and my whereabouts, shouldn’t they offer me the money first?   I’ll gladly tell them!   I’ll wear a goddamn ankle bracelet for them if the price is right!   No need to go to Yahoo at all.   But no, it’s always Corporate Welfare First with these people …..

Here’s the other story:

Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

8 million times!   Holy shit!   How do they even have the personnel to handle that kind of info-tsunami?   WTF is up with that?    I’m a Sprint customer, did they pay for my records?   Again, I’ll gladly tell them if they want to pay me!   Or shit, just give me free phone service and they can do whatever they want with my records!   “Hey, honey.   I’m at the store.  Are we out of milk?  I can’t remember …..”

And one of the links embedded here points to the fact that I’m not joking around here, this really IS a business!

Check out this proud corporate website!  


Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception,

Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Gathering

ISS World Americas is the world’s largest gathering of North American, Caribbean and Latin American Law Enforcement, Intelligence and Homeland Security Analysts and Telecom Operators responsible for lawful interception, electronic investigations and network Intelligence gathering.

ISS World Programs present the methodologies and tools to bridge the chasms from lawful intercept data gathering to information creation to investigator knowledge to actionable intelligence.

Our 2010 Agenda is coming soon! Below find the agenda for our just completed 2009 conference.

Nice!   Big Brother has gone public!   You, too, can have a career in spying on your neighbors.    I thought we won the cold war, and the Soviet Union was no more.   When did we turn into a capitalist version of it again?    Oh yeah, “911 changed everything blah blah blah blah”.   Fuck 9/11.    What Ben Franklin said.   If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.   Something about deserving to lose your liberties.    

Now check this out, from further down on the 2nd link I provided.

This is simple, absolute proof that professional journalism is dead in this country.   There is real journalism being done out there, but it’s ALL being done by amateurs.   Here’s a perfect example:

Follow the money

“When I can follow the money, I know how much of something is being consumed – how many wiretaps, how many pen registers, how many customer records. Couple that with reporting, and at least you have the opportunity to look at and know about what is going on.

— Albert Gidari Jr., Keynote Address: Companies Caught in the Middle, 41 U.S.F. L. Rev. 535, Spring 2007.

Telecommunications carriers and Internet firms do not just hand over sensitive customer information to law enforcement officers. No — these companies charge the government for it.

Cox Communications, the third largest cable provider in the United States, is the only company I’ve found that has made its surveillance price list public. Thus, we are able to learn that the company charges $2,500 for the first 60 days of a pen register/trap and trace, followed by $2,000 for each additional 60 days, while it charges $3,500 for the first 30 days of a wiretap, followed by $2,500 for each additional 30 days. Historical data is much cheaper — 30 days of a customer’s call detail records can be obtained for a mere $40.

Comcast does not make their price list public, but the company’s law enforcement manual was leaked to the Internet a couple years ago. Based on that 2007 document, it appears that Comcast charges at least $1000 for the first month of a wiretap, followed by $750 for each month after that.

Now, here’s why I love this guy, whoever he is:

In the summer of 2009, I decided to try and follow the money trail in order to determine how often Internet firms were disclosing their customers’ private information to the government. I theorized that if I could obtain the price lists of each ISP, detailing the price for each kind of service, and invoices paid by the various parts of the Federal government, then I might be able to reverse engineer some approximate statistics. In order to obtain these documents, I filed Freedom of Information Act requests with every part of the Department of Justice that I could think of.

The first agency within DOJ to respond was the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), who informed me that they had price lists on file for Cox, Comcast, Yahoo! and Verizon. Since the price lists were provided to USMS voluntarily, the companies were given the opportunity to object to the disclosure of their documents. Neither Comcast nor Cox objected (perhaps because their price lists were already public), while both Verizon and Yahoo! objected to the disclosure.

I then filed a second request, asking for copies of the two firms’ objection letters. Those letters proved to be more interesting than the price lists I originally sought.

Click here for the complete Verizon price list letter. (PDF file)

Click here for the complete Yahoo! price list letter. (PDF file)

Your info is for sale, folks.   We’re paying them to spy on us, and then they turn around and sell that info.   They get revenue streams coming in both directions, right into their bank accounts.   In the meantime, we’re paying them AND getting spied on.  

We’re so fucked ….


    • Inky99 on December 3, 2009 at 09:30

    Maybe someone will pay me to spy on ALL OF YOU.

    • Joy B. on December 3, 2009 at 17:35

    …to follow me around and report. Yes, I did make the offer, which was a money-saving proposition for them since I’d take only half what they’re paying God only knows how many cyberspooks to do it now. Saving money isn’t what this is about (mostly robotic anyway), it’s sort of like WPA for the 21st century. So I take small satisfaction in giving them plenty of busy-work. You should see some of my Googles and site-based research! Their robot has to be working overtime on me… ยง;o)

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