Monday, May 15, 2006

Cable Companies Are Following the Law

If you're like me, you love your local cable provider. In my case, they provide not only a wide range of programming (though Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, and Speedvision seem to get the most airplay in our house) and on-demand HBO reruns (so great for those bouts of insomnia when infomercials are the only things showing on most channels), but also super-speedy Roadrunner Internet plus a truly great deal on their digital phone service that allows us unlimited calls to the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico--all day, every day--for one-tenth of what we used to pay one of those spineless, privacy-violating telecom giants (okay, Verizon).

Anyway, my concerns that the NSA might also be hitting up the cable companies for customers' records were premature. Whew.

NEW YORK — Leading cable operators say a 1984 federal law would stop them from handing customer calling records to the National Security Agency the way AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth have, as reported Thursday in USA TODAY. The phone giants agreed after Sept. 11, 2001, to create a database of customer calling logs to help the NSA find terrorists, according to the report.

Comcast, the largest operator, doesn't "provide the federal government access to customer (video, Internet or phone calling) records, or the ability to monitor customer communications, in the absence of valid legal process" such as a court order or search warrant, says spokeswoman D'Arcy Rudnay. Time Warner and Cox also said that it would take such an order for them to give the government such access.

Something to consider if Qwest and Working Assets are not options for your region.

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