May 11 2006, 6:09 AM
Who would have thought Qwest is in the forefront of supporting our civil liberties? USA Today reports that the National Security Agency has been monitoring the phone records of tens of millions of Americans since 9/11 through contracts with the nation's three largest providers: AT&T, Verizon and Bell South.
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans -- most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.As to what the NSA is doing with your records, USA Today says no one knows for sure, but probably, they end up at the Pentagon. The NSA tried to get Qwest to agree to providing records of calls made by its business and individual customers. The company balked at the legality of the proposal and declined:
Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services -- primarily long-distance and wireless -- to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.So three cheers for Qwest today. I'm almost thinking of moving my cell phone to the company in appreciation of its commitment to my privacy.