Sunday, May 14, 2006

$5 billion lawsuit filed against Verizon

Two New Jersey attorneys, Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, have filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York City against Verizon regarding its sharing of call-detail records with the NSA without a subpoena. The lawsuit charges that Verizon has violated a number of federal laws, including the 1986 Stored Communications Act (28 USC 2701), which provides for $1,000 in statutory damages for each violation. Some reports have quoted a $50 billion figure based the potential of one violation regarding the information of each of 50 million people, but the suit as filed asks for $1,000 per violation, or $5 billion if certified as a class action.

The Stored Communications Act is a confusingly-written piece of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that covers both content records (such as email) as well as non-content records (such as log information and subscriber information). One of the exceptions in the law for when a provider can supply non-content information to a governmental entity without a subpoena is if (quoting from a commentary by law professor Orin Kerr) "the provider reasonably believes that an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to any person justifies disclosure of the information." This seems like a defense that Verizon will be likely to use to justify a program that's supposed to be used to identify and stop terrorists.

Verizon claims that it "does not, and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition."

RCN, a telecom and Internet provider (its assets include the former Erols Internet) based in Herndon, VA, has issued a press release stating that it, like Qwest, has not disclosed customer information except when required by legal process.

1 comment:

victim said...

Funny that these 2 lawyers have no listings with the find a lawyer sites. No phone numbers listed either......