Friday, May 12, 2006

Qwest: Warrants? You don't got no stinkin warrants!

Qwest's Refusal of N.S.A. Query Is Explained

WASHINGTON, May 12 — The telecommunications company Qwest turned down requests by the National Security Agency for private telephone records because it concluded that doing so would violate federal privacy laws, a lawyer for the telephone company's former chief executive said today.

In a statement released this morning, the lawyer said that the former chief executive, Joseph N. Nacchio, made the decision after asking whether "a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request."

Mr. Nacchio learned that no warrant had been granted and that there was a "disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," said the lawyer, Herbert J. Stern. As a result, the statement said, Mr. Nacchio concluded that "the requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act."

A Qwest spokesman, Robert Toevs, declined to discuss anything to do with security issues or the statement by Mr. Nacchio's lawyer.

Qwest was the only phone company to turn down requests from the security agency for phone records as part of a program to compile a vast database of numbers and other information on virtually all domestic calls. The program's scope was first described in an article published on Thursday by USA Today that led to an outpouring of demands for information from Congressional Republicans and Democrats. The article said that AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon had agreed to provide the information to the security agency.


Odds are Qwest was just covering its butt legally, but kudos to Qwest for respecting its customers privacy more than the administration does. What this and other articles never say is whether or not the govt ever got back to Qwest with a warrant. If Qwest's data was of true import I would assume that they did. If not it may however be a sign of just exactly how under the radar the NSA and the administration wanted this to be.