Big Brother's listening to your calls

A guest post from Alison Jobling, who you may know as regular reader and commenter Heroesall.

Wired News has an interview with Mark Klein, the whistleblower in the AT&T spy scandal, and as a geek, I'm all eyes, ears, and other assorted bits.

Wired covered the original story on May 17th 2006. Basically, AT&T built secret rooms in their main switching centers around the country, containing equipment to copy internet traffic along with extremely powerful traffic analysis software. The spying program was directly authorized by President Bush, and has all the hallmarks of the cloak-and-dagger Total Information Awareness program whose Illuminati-like logo delighted young and old. It's not mentioned whether any of those with clearance to enter the secret rooms were issued with a decoder ring and a chocolate-flavoured code book, but I live in hope.

So why should we care? I mean, surely they're doing it for our own good, right? Surely the government would only spy on terrorists, right? And surely they'd conduct their spying in strict accordance with the law, right?

Wrong. Here's Steve Bannerman, vice president of marketing and product management of Narus, the manufacturer of the traffic analysis software:
"We take great pains to build into the product the ability to manage those warrants so you don't accidentally target a user for longer than the warrant specifies," Bannerman said. "However, once a user installs our product, it's completely opaque to us if they actually type in a warrant."
So the software stops you from accidentally sucking up someone's data for longer than the warrant specifies. All very well and groovy: our precious rights are being protected. But it's quite happy to suck up data without any warrant at all.

And from the interview with Klein:

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