The US Government pays big bucks to snoop on you

by Gareth Mankoo

We all know it but what we do not know is how much. Reports claim that precious US tax dollars are spent on snooping on personal information of folks, paid to technology and phone companies. AT&T charges the government $325 as “activation fees” for each wiretap and $10 a day for maintenance. Cricket and U.S. Cellular however charge $250 for each wiretap they enable on their networks. What could really cost the government dear is snooping on a Verizon customer. It could cost them $775 for the first month and $500 for all subsequent months. These figures are according to industry disclosures made to Congressman Edward Markey last year. Then we have email records that the National Security Agency always needs to keep a tab on. A program revealed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden had data collected for free or at very low costs. Facebook for once does not charge the government a dime for access of its profiles. Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are all keeping mum on how much they are charging for their data. American Civil Liberties Union found out that email records can be fetched for a fee as low as $25.

Now civil liberties groups believe that giving away such critical data for a low cost or for free can lead to unnecessary surveillance by the government. The fact remains that the final call is that of the company at the end of the day. Are those who service us the ones who compromise and sell our personal data for free? “What we don’t want is surveillance to become a profit center,” said Christopher Soghoian, the ACLU’s principal technologist. But “it’s always better to charge $1. It creates friction, and it creates transparency” because it generates a paper trail that can be tracked.

[Via – Usatoday]

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