back to article Supreme Court confirms telco immunity on spying charges

The US Supreme Court has effectively ruled that the AT&T and other telecommunications companies are immune from prosecution for helping the National Security Agency (NSA) in a large-scale domestic surveillance scheme covering phone calls, emails and internet use. The court declined to hear an appeal of Hepting v. AT&T, a case …


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  1. solidsoup

    Crap reporting

    I don't like corporation-enabled government snooping, but that doesn't mean I have to take shoddy reporting of it.

    "US Supreme Court has effectively ruled that the AT&T and other telecommunications companies are immune"

    SCOTUS did no such thing. Refusing to hear a case is not the same as ruling on it. Ruling establishes precedent that may take decades to overturn and that all lower courts have to follow. It is effectively very different from letting a lower courts decision stand.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EFF = Energetic Frivolous Fools

    These bumbling, self-serving morons file suits just for something to do. They don't represent me nor my interest, thank you.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: EFF = Energetic Frivolous Fools

      Indeed, requiring a warrant before you spy on your own citizens. Ridiculous, they'll be wanting trials before the sentence next.

      The whole point of having the right to bear arms is so that the government can have the right to enter your property whenever it wants.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: EFF = Energetic Frivolous Fools

        I'm guessing that last bit is also sarcasm. Hmm?

    2. Killraven

      Re: EFF = Energetic Frivolous Fools

      You're saying that the EFF has *NEVER* and *WILL NEVER* try to push any sort of legal issue that could in any way be to your benefit?

      I suppose that if you're not an American this is completely true. If you are an American, then I can only shake my head and wonder. Just because you're not interested in the Constitutional rights the EFF is trying to uphold, doesn't mean it's not for your benefit too.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EFF = Energetic Frivolous Fools

      "These bumbling, self-serving morons file suits just for something to do. They don't represent me nor my interest, thank you."

      Ironically sent anonymously.....

    4. Zombie Womble

      Re: EFF = Energetic Frivolous Fools

      "They don't represent me nor my interest, thank you."

      Then why are you so upset?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Franklin's wise words

    Lets split the world up between those who think Ben Franklin was spot on ("They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."), and those who don't, and live separately.

    Those who think he was wrong can get on with the evidently terribly important business of having government + commerce ream them out for every thought, fantasy and petty prejudice, with all the attendant risks that carries. If they're lucky, they'll end up free of any threat from islamoterrorpedophotographercommies and get to watch Fox News more often, but probably at a very high price.

    The rest of us can get on with having a sense of proportion, take a more sanguine view of risk, and not wonder what shit some opaque, self serving agency is going to deliver unto us to save us from ourselves on the quiet. As a side benefit, we'll only have to arrive at airports an hour early and won't get arrested for being caught in possession of Cuban cigars.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Catch 42 ...... at the 33rd Degree of Arrogant Ignorant Madness

    Would British intelligence services and members of governments and even military special operations forces being thinking that they too are above the law and prosecution for doing that which they would see others prosecuted and popularly punished for?

    And is that the Enigmatic Chilcot Dilemma revealed to justify the long silent deliberation on the very public disgrace of a thoroughly dishonourable, sub-prime ministerial private enterprise shamelessly cloaked in a ponzi work of greater global public good?

    Long runs the fox, but the hounds and the hunt are never defeated and denied their prized insignificant quarry, is a fact to ponder for those who would spin a deadly fiction for fools gold and the empty promise of a feathered cuckoo's nest egg to boot.

    And now JSavile with its revelations of decades of systematic and systemic abuse covered up and/or ignored by corporations and investigative power bodies unfit for their perceived and conceived greater good purpose, at least, and rotten to the core and guilty of collusion and probable similar action at worst, and most probably most likely the only valid reason for the wanton abuse and crime against vulnerable children who knew no better then but who now all have a voice which can be clearly heard internetworking, with just the truth of their experiences aired, wherever they feel comfortable airing them, and that should allow the police and justice system and the public, no excuse to say that they are not aware of what has and is going on around and in amongst them.

    Which is what the Internet is all about, right at ITs Heart and Kernels ...... The Simple Sharing of the Naked Raw Truth so that the Reality Created is not an Existence to Suffer Built upon a Compendium of Idiots' Lies and Half Truths/Shoddy Fabrications.

    Welcome to Greater IntelAIgents Games Play with ITs Virtual Reality Vector Sectors Mentoring and Monitoring Alien Progress in Live Operational Virtualisable Environments ........CodedDXSSXXXX LOVE Fields.

    1. Luther Blissett

      Re: Catch 42 ...... at the 33rd Degree of Arrogant Ignorant Madness

      To that 1st Quest ion, unfortunately Yes. Less 666 mod 20 IMHO, and more the retread of Hobbes nail boots (not as farce either).

      Until WW1 - gas and guns - the biggest WMD was The Philosopher. Yet far from going the way of the DoDo, the intertubes and its democratization of publishing have made philosophers out of many more ordinary. But how many philosophers ever got it 100% right? None. So now there are many many more liars in circulation...

      Hobbes had a peculiar political philosophy: it is wrong to overthrow the govt whatever. Ergo, anything which prevents a putsch is right and proper. Of course sh..IT happens. But the song remains the same: it is wrong to overthrow the new lot as well! Perhaps Hobbes was really the original Guardianista - terrified of The Libertarian.

      As for J Sa vile, one wonders if evil is socially fractal. And, as interesting a question, under what conditions a society could be fractally evil. Somewhat irrelevant perhaps, since the resurgence of the Spirit of Hobbes also implies the imminent rebirth of Locke - a much less paranoid fellow, who inspired the original US constitution. Sometimes the glass is so close to half filled, that in trying to determine the measure, we find the delta is smaller than the least observable quantum.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Catch 42 ...... at the 33rd Degree of Arrogant Ignorant Madness

        Howdy, Luther B,

        Methinks nowadays the fashion is that governments not popularly overthrown in revolution but rather more invaded with foreign aided hordes acting as savages might in a madhouse. Certainly peace and stability and a lively and democratic administration, which is pimped to fools by idiots who probably know no better and delude themselves that violence and destruction can deliver it with a purge of old orders/contrary regimes, is never provided to replace the mayhem which ensues with removal of Working Command and Control Infrastructures ..... and that is the real master plan, to weaken and conquer and steal a foreign land and its wealth and potential?

        Follow the money and discover what is making a killing to discover who is responsible for killings and mayhem. Was Hobbes an early day fascist and/or royalist troll and establishment shill?

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So pretty much what the UK govt wants to do with (what they are now calling) the CCIP

    Formerly the Govt Interception Modernization Program.

    Note that it is *also* about "communications data" and is also a warrentless system.

    But how can "Trailblazer" have snooped the *whole* US public for "over a $1Bn" when the stuff to just support the UK ISP's in house hardware will be £1.8Bn? Granted this is over 10 yrs but did the NSA get a bulk discount?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Did the NSA get a bulk discount?

      Nah, they just tendered too low.

      Hint: Is there any proof that Trailblazer actually did what it was paid to do? Is there any likelihood that the UK scheme will? No, in both cases. The figures you just quoted are merely what those in charge have decided is a politically reasonable amount of cash to grab for spending on projects that they don't want to admit to. There is, in fact, no absolute requirement that either project ever existed, since revealing any such evidence would be a breach of national security and revealing that the money was actually spent on something else too secret to even admit too would be an even more serious breach.

      By their very nature, state secrets are where democracy stops and dictatorship begins. We either prohibit the whole notion of state secrecy or we trust that the dictatorship is benign. On the historical evidence, the latter is only likely if the dictatorship is fairly narrow in scope and its personnel drawn very widely from society as a whole. Both of those requirements can be policed by democratic representatives, but only if the latter are fairly smart and aware that this is an important part of their job.

  6. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Is Inspector Cluso now in charge of the NSA?

    What nobody has picked up on, so far, is that the NSA splurged a billion on a commercial system that didn't work, when they had an in house system that could have prevented 9/11. I'm not worried about privacy when they display that level of competency.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Is Inspector Cluso now in charge of the NSA?

      " when they had an in house system that could have prevented 9/11."

      But it was invented by civil servants.

      How could it *possibly* be better than something bought from a "reputable" government con-tractor?*

      I'd view *all* such claims as very dubious. How much is this based on searching *all* the data trails based on the MO of the attackers. Once you *know* it's going to be multiple high jackings and crashing into buildings by foreign nationals how much of the data space is eliminated?

      Now how about "We *believe* there will be an imminent large scale attack on this country by foreign nationals who may (or may not) be in this country" and watch the data space explode.

      *Who probably got it originally off of either a university post grad thesis or some *other* government development project at a knock down price.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: could have prevented 9/11

      There are a lot of things that could have prevented 9/11, many of them were in fact, in place (including agents actively reporting the suspicious behavior at the flight school which could have been used to legally start surveillance and get search warrants for wiretaps). The one critical failure was that at the highest levels for the previous 4 years there was an active denial that events like 9/11 were possible let alone being actively planned. The current mess in Libya is deja vu all over again.

  7. Ole Juul

    Troubling times

    "It's getting further and further from the rule of law."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Troubling times

      It is. I thought that was the most salient point of the lot.

  8. Stratman

    So now "We were only obeying orders" is a valid defence...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Idiots' Choice ..... and a right of passage for cannon fodder/worthless expendable pawns ‽

      So now "We were only obeying orders" is a valid defence... .... Stratman Posted Thursday 11th October 2012 11:41 GMT

      Methinks, "We were only obeying orders" is a valid defence.only for crazy attackers, Stratman, and lazy to the point of being almost as if comatose thinkers, ..... dumbed down and spaced out robots/Manchurian candidates

  9. Peter C.

    What a waste of time

    The EFF should know that national security comes before some minor privacy concern. Where people get the notion that they are immune to surveilliance is beyond me. Every store you shop in has surveillience. Many streets/businesses properties have camera surveillance. Most government buildings have camera surveillance. Every cellphone call you make is recorded. Every call to a Biz is often recorded. Every phone call or Internet action you make is subject to review for security reasons. Is this really news to people? No where is it carved in stone that your actions or communications will not be monitored for security purposes. It would be ignorant to assume this or impose this type of misguided policy.

    1. mIRCat
      Black Helicopters

      Re: What a waste of time

      In the United States at least they have the 4th Amendment which is meant to protect the people from illegal search and seizure. The problem with what the NSA did under FISA was they in some cases they never filed for a warrant, even after the fact if they had filed it would most likely been granted. They completely ignored the rights of their citizens and the fact that there are people with attitudes like you anywhere in the world is chilling and makes me a little less sure if I want to live in the future we're creating.

      Black helicopter for reasons that should be obvious.

  10. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    So surely they should be advocating the use of Chinese routers, no?

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