A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Qwest cites privacy law basis for refusing NSA access to phone data

[JURIST] Telecommunications company Qwest on Friday explained its decision to deny the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] access to its customers' telephone records in contrast to competitors AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth [corporate websites] which allowed that. According to a company lawyer, former Qwest CEO Joseph N. Nacchio concluded that "the requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act [PDF text]" after discovering that no warrant had been presented by the NSA. Qwest was the only company approached that refused to provide the NSA with records, allegedly used to study the calling patterns of millions of Americans [USA Today report; JURIST report] in an effort to detect terrorist activity.

The use of phone data to study calling patterns is one part of a broader warrantless domestic wiretapping program [JURIST news archive] that has been a contentious issue since it was first exposed [JURIST report] in December 2005. The New York Times has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.