13 May 2006

Hung up on you

I received a bulk-mail today from Working Assets, a SF-based group that provides phone and credit card services. Its an ethical group that pays a significant portion of profits back to charities of your choice. These were the guys that tried to put a massive "Support our troops, bring them home" billboard opposite a certain ranch in Crawford, Texas. To be honest though, we signed up to them when we were living in the US because they gave us a free tub of Ben & Jerry's.

The mail today is a letter from their President talking about the recent revelation of three major phone companies handing over their call records to the Federal Government. I'm posting parts of the mail below, as I think it's a rare thing for a company today to stand up to the government on ethical grounds, and should be supported (even if they did spam me to do so).

-----------------------------------------------------

A Message From Working Assets' President

In light of new revelations about the big telecommunications carriers'
handing over domestic calling records to the National Security Agency,
I am writing to let you know where Working Assets stands on the NSA's
increasingly alarming activities.

Working Assets believes that the warrantless monitoring of phone
conversations ordered by the Bush administration is illegal and
unacceptable. As reported yesterday in USA Today ... AT&T,
Bell South and Verizon sold customer call records to the NSA. We also
unequivocally oppose the disclosure of domestic calling records to the
NSA by our nation's telecommunications providers. Working Assets would
never, under any circumstances, give (let alone sell) records to the
Bush administration without a warrant or court order.

In fact, as Working Assets' President, I recently signed on to an
amicus brief supporting the ACLU's law suit against the National
Security Agency. We are the only telephone company participating in
this lawsuit.

Working Assets has never been approached by any government agency
seeking our help in illegally accessing the content of conversations
by our customers, and we would refuse any such request. We are
actively engaged in opposing warrantless monitoring, in pushing for
full disclosure by the government regarding the scope of the
monitoring, and in protecting citizens from intrusive and illegal
exercises of governmental power. Additionally, we are fighting Bush's
nomination of General Michael V. Hayden, the architect of the NSA's
illegal wiretapping program, to head the CIA.

If you are a member of AT&T (including Cingular and SBC), Bell South
or Verizon, your telecom company willingly sold the private telephone
records of American citizens to the Bush administration's illegal
domestic spying operation. Please contact your provider now, and let
them know that this is simply unacceptable...

... As a telecommunications company, it is our special privilege to
facilitate communications among our fellow citizens, to enable
conversations on matters personal, commercial, social and political.
It is therefore our special obligation to oppose warrantless
interference into those communications, whatever the government's
justification may be. We will keep you posted on new developments as
they arise.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Michael Kieschnick, President
Working Assets

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