Responding to revelations that phone companies are colluding in illegal government spying by turning over details about Americans' private telephone calls to the National Security Agency, the New York Civil Liberties Union today demanded that New York state officials investigate two companies that provide telecommunications services to New Yorkers.
The demand came in the form of a letter that the NYCLU sent on behalf of itself and hundreds of New Yorkers to the Office of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the New York State Public Services Commission, and the Consumer Protection Board.
"As Americans we have the right to expect that our private communications will stay private," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. "Now New Yorkers are standing up for that right by asking our representatives to find out whether AT&T and Verizon are violating our privacy."
The NYCLU's letter comes on the heels of the FCC's announcement yesterday that it will not pursue complaints about the phone companies' collusion with the NSA.
"Unfortunately, the FCC's decision makes clear that we cannot expect the federal government to address this problem," said Corey Stoughton, NYCLU Staff Attorney. "The NYCLU's members and supporters are mobilizing to demand that New York State public officials use their authority to protect our privacy and demand answers from the phone companies."
As part of a nationwide campaign about NSA spying, the ACLU is running full-page advertisements today in The New York Times and half a dozen major daily newspapers, with the headline: "If You've Used a Telephone in the Last Five Years, Read This." Seventeen other ACLU affiliates also filed complaints today with their state authorities demanding similar investigations.
Click here to read the NYCLU's letter (requires the free Adobe Reader).
The ACLU's full-page advertisement and other background are available at www.aclu.org/dontspy.