2006/07/12

Will San Francisco punish AT&T for civil liberties violations?

When your telco (AT&T) makes a decision to transfer all conceivable data to a government agency that is not tasked with the job of law enforcement (NSA), what do you do? When that same company then changes its privacy policy to retroactively screw its own customer base out of control of their personal data, what do you do?

Well the City of San Francisco may have a solution. Mayor Gavin Newsom, no stranger to controversy, has floated the notion of examining AT&T's municipal contracts in light of alleged violations of it's customer's civil liberties. In essence, voting with the city's dollars--the only language that Bu$hCo and its undeputized corporate enforcers understand.

You may recall that San Francisco has used these tactics before. Most notably when former mayor Willie Brown threatened to kick United Airlines out of its maintenance base at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to offer the same domestic partner benefits as the City. United sued but eventually settled with the City when it became apparent that the San Francisco's ordinance would be upheld in the Federal circuit.

AT&T should take this as a lesson. They can violate the law on DoJ's say so, but nothing requires a city, or a person for that matter, to do business with them. Money talks. Will AT&T listen?

10 Comments:

Newsom's got some big cahones, no? I say, kick ass and take names, all the way to the tipity top.
Interesting, but I live in a small, rural town that doesn't have the financial means to take AT&T to court if they wanted to. It would take a bunch of small towns getting together and filing a class action suit to make a difference around here.
I still think the BS is in any of these corps seriously delivering anything worthwhile.
Even if the Govt were to pay big bucks for the info, the Corp would try and screw them. And the agents will have fun as well.
I admire the challenge, but expect it will end up buried under the crap in the TOS.
You gota love corporate America.
Stick it to 'em Mayor Newsom!
Gary, WS, pretty gutsy huh? I'd love to see SF make a grab for the telco infrastructure on the grounds that AT&T can't be trusted to act in the best interest of the consumers, but at least he can deal with the city contracts for things like long-distance and cell service.

Kathy, you're right you'd need a class action or something like that, and just cause SF managed to do it once, doesn't mean we'll be successful this time.
Cartledge, there is a long analysis on Bruce Schneier's blog that I may post part of dealing with exactly what you're talking about--the general problem of sieve-style information gathering.

Pretty good read.
ty kvatch, I need all the predigested stuff I can get at the moment. I'm in a sieve-style state myself.
Like any good corportation, if you hit them in the pocketbook, eventually they will listen.

Seems like the Gov. might have a bigger stick though.

Comment from the right: "If AT&T doesn't give up that information immediately, the blood will be on their hands!"
Jeez, everytime I see that ATT logo, I think, "But Alderaan is peaceful, we have no weapons!"
Mr_Blog, that it the funniest comment I've heard all week. LOL!

"This logo is now the ultimate power in the Universe."

Add a comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link