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Military Misleads Mother About How Her Son Died. AT&T Says It Owns Customers' Private Information

Reported by Marie Therese - June 21, 2006

Earlier today on my local CBS affiliate, KPIX Channel 5 in San Francisco, they aired an interview with the mother of Army Sgt, Patrick R. McCaffrey, Sr., age 34, killed in action in Iraq on June 22, 2004. Fallen Heroes has published the official account of his death, as follows: "Army Sgt. Patrick J. McCaffrey, Sr., 34, of Tracy, California, died in Balad, Iraq, when enemy forces ambushed his ground patrol. He was assigned to the Army National Guard's 579th Engineer Battalion, Petaluma, California." But this is not true.

Sgt. McCaffrey was not killed by enemy forces but was, in fact, murdered by Iraqi "friendlies" who were with the Americans.

You can view the CBS interview with Patrick's mother at CBS5.com

Comment: Tell me again why I should believe ANYTHING this government tells me?

During the same news broadcast, it was also announced that AT&T has "changed" its privacy policy, declaring that it owns the private information of its customers and is, therefore, entitled to allow the government access to those records. The reporter noted that this news might be in response to an exclusive report, released today by Salon.com, which claims that AT&T has top secret locations in which the government is routinely given access to the internet activity of AT&T's customers.

Question: Do any of our lawyers out there know if I can legally break my one-year contract with AT&T on the grounds that, by altering their privacy agreement with me, they have rendered the original contract null and void? Otherwise, I'm stuck giving these bastards another three months of my money.

According to a May 11, 2006 article in USA TodayComcast, Time Warner, Cos, Dish Network and DirecTV have all said that they did not share records with the NSA nor would they without a search warrant.

Comment: The ever-wonderful Working Assets , founded by noted liberal activist Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, is actually siding with the ACLU in their lawsuit against Verizon, AT&T, et al. They also contribute 1% of their receipts to liberal causes. I just switched my cell phone and long distance to them. So long, Verizon!

From USA Today

... the cable industry has a history of opposing government regulation.

"There are probably good reasons the NSA would go to the phone companies instead of the cable companies," says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "There isn't a tradition (in cable) of turning over customer records."

Congress extended the cable privacy rules to satellite subscribers in a 2004 law. "They took the cable statute and substituted the words 'satellite operator' for 'cable provider," says DirecTV associate general counsel Chris Murphy. (DirecTV is owned by News Corporation, parent company of FOX News Channel.)

But cable operators said the government has made it more difficult to apply the privacy standards set in 1984 when they just offered video, to their Internet and phone services.

Congress in 2001 amended the Cable Act to make it jibe with their Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which requires Internet providers to obey a government order to turn over data about Web habits without informing the subscriber.

With phone service, the Federal Communications Commission "has not yet said what the privacy policy would be," says National Cable & Telecommunications Association general counsel Neal Goldberg. "We've suggested (the Cable Act) requirements. We're used to them. We know how to operate under them. At a minimum, we've said, don't impose inconsistent or conflicting requirements."

Among third-party companies offering phone capability via broadband, Skyype had no comment. Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz said, "Our position on this issue as it relates to Vonage is pretty clear. We don't supply any government authority with call record data or any sensitive customer information without a subpoena."

Waiting with bated breath to see how FOX News spins this.

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