Temporary facade, Chinatown, San Francisco. AT&T's new customer service agreements might as well be in Mandarin or Cantonese - for non-speakers - as it contains so much legal language buried within its 2,500 pages.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a new lawsuit againt the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies and officials, redoubling their efforts in the fight against warrantless wiretapping. Jewel v. NSA is aimed at "ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable those responsible for creating, authorizing, and implementing the illegal program, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney.," EFF said. For more information, go here.
New book explores Cheney's role in spying
A book about the NSA's illegal spying program has just been released. Barton Gellman's "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency," reveals new information about the warrantless wiretapping scandal and Dick Cheney's role in it. Cheney and his lawyer, the book reports, were so intent on keeping the spying program behind a veil of secrecy that details were withheld even from top national security officials - including Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and the "Gang of Eight," the ranking senators ordinarily kept in the loop on national security matters.
Lawsuits against AT&T continue
EFF's litigation is continuing in Hepting v. AT&T, the first case filed against a telecom for violating its customers' privacy by allowing warrantless surveillance. Several months ago, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which was intended to force the dismissal of Hepting v. AT&T and numerous other telecom lawsuits. EFF is working to challenge this law and hold the telecoms accountable for their illegal behavior. More here.
AT&T actions draw ire of California regulators
Meanwhile, in California, AT&T is being questioned over its customer service agreements. The Los Angeles Times reports AT&T has sent customers an 8,000-word service agreement that says customers will be given 30-day notice of price increases only when "commercially reasonable" and that you can't sue the company.
If you don't like AT&T's terms -- contained in the company's 2,500-page "guidebook" provided only online -- your only recourse is to cancel service.
State regulators are considering whether the AT&T service agreement violates the law and unfairly limits customers' rights. And the California Public Utilities Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates is protesting AT&T's attempt to remove numerous services from regulatory scrutiny, before they're offered to customers.
An analysis of the agreement prepared for PUC staffers found fault with several AT&T provisions, including this one: "You also agree to pay for all charges for services provided under this agreement even if such calls were not authorized by you." The analysis said this "is in direct violation to cramming laws," which protect consumers from unauthorized charges on their bills.
Check out the tragi-comic political cartoons of the week.
And who knew about Sarah Palin's direct association with a Kenyan witch-hunter?
The Anchorage Daily News points out that Palin has surrendered important gubernatorial duties to the McCain campaign staff. Is that even legal?