U.S. Department Of Justice Secretly Granted Immunity For Internet Providers Engaging In Cybersurveillance Program

cybersurveillanceIf it’s in the name of “security,” telecommunications corporations can now monitor users’ personal messages with special legal immunity granted from existing wiretapping laws, CNET News reports:

Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications on networks operated by AT&T and other service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.

The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors’ Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.

The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as “2511 letters,” a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books.

“The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained over 1,000 pages of internal government documents and provided them to CNET this week.

The Wiretap Act limits the ability of Internet providers to eavesdrop on network traffic except when monitoring is a “necessary incident” to providing the service or it takes place with a user’s “lawful consent.” An industry representative told CNET the 2511 letters provided legal immunity to the providers by agreeing not to prosecute for criminal violations of the Wiretap Act. It’s not clear how many 2511 letters were issued by the Justice Department.

6 Comments on "U.S. Department Of Justice Secretly Granted Immunity For Internet Providers Engaging In Cybersurveillance Program"

  1. Unfortunately for them, there is a difference between “legal immunity” and “de facto impunity”.

    No one can guarantee the latter.

  2. legal immunity? haha no such thing
    even as a proposition it’s set to violate at least one law
    there’s no such thing as a lawful or legal action
    and it doesn’t have to stay that way
    and that doesn’t have to be illegal
    there are only illegal actions
    and cases in which “oh hey a new handle, a genus favor from the gods”
    legal inoculations don’t get versus’ed like Monsanto
    and they should
    no one’s any different
    pools of water don’t stand over pools of water
    and density metaphors are illegal


  3. Calypso_1 | May 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

    This ‘immunity’ has existed long before the internet, since the beginnings of the telcoms & has been well documented. There has been a revolving door between telcom execs & operational directors of the NSA. They were monitoring phone & telex traffic in the 60 & 70’s as documented by DOJ investigations. There were secret courts to handle this long before FISA. Most of the initial ISPs in this country were started by NSA & DIA personnel.

    The DOJ is just trying to get in on the game.

    • tessellative mercing
      i say disinfo has a disinfo style brownout and disiminates information regarding which players thumb up or thumb down

  4. They can pronounce immunity all they like, they will be made to answer to a higher “law,” the will of the people – one way or another, if you know what I mean

  5. Free country? Free, my eyes! In the area of removing rights and freedom, BHO is no better than GWB. Worse, because he has the opportunity to do something positive but is only making things less free.

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