September 18, 2007 | By Kurt Opsahl

DOJ Testimony Alludes to Massive Scope of Wiretapping

In a House Judiciary hearing today, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Ken Wainstein testified in support of the Administration's request to give the telecom companies a 'get out of jail free' card for their participation in warrantless wiretapping. Wainstein breathlessly warned that the telecoms might otherwise face "crushing liability." But the statutory penalties for warrantless wiretapping are relatively small per person -- even if AT&T was ordered to pay the maximum penalty, a few hundred illegal wiretaps would amount to less than a rounding error in the phone companies' quarterly statements (AT&T reported revenues of $29.4 billion for the quarter ending June 30). If the NSA was truly limiting its spying to suspected terrorists, the potential liability would be like an annoying gnat on an elephant. So why are the companies so worried? Perhaps the telecoms are actually concerned because they helped the feds intercept the communications of millions of ordinary Americans.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

It's not just the NSA to worry about - the FBI is behind mysterious surveillance aircraft seen over US cities https://eff.org/r.yb0h

Jun 2 @ 9:23am

It's not just the NSA we have to worry about - the FBI is flying mysterious surveillance aircraft seen over US cities https://eff.org/r.yb0h

Jun 2 @ 9:23am

It's not just the NSA we have to worry about - the FBI is behind mysterious surveillance aircraft seen over US cities https://eff.org/r.yb0h

Jun 2 @ 9:19am
JavaScript license information