Comcast’s Fee to the Government and Policy on Domestic Surveillance

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The Federation of American Scientists’ government secrecy guru Steve Aftergood reports:

Upon lawful request and for a thousand dollars, Comcast, one of the nation’s leading telecommunications companies, will intercept its customers’ communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The cost for performing any FISA surveillance “requiring deployment of an intercept device” is $1,000.00 for the “initial start-up fee (including the first month of intercept service),” according to a newly disclosed Comcast Handbook for Law Enforcement.

Thereafter, the surveillance fee goes down to “$750.00 per month for each subsequent month in which the original [FISA] order or any extensions of the original order are active.” …

“If your [FISA intercept] request pertains to individuals outside the U.S., please be sure you have complied with all the requirements in 50 U.S.C. sections 105A and/or 105B,” the manual says, referring to provisions of the Protect America Act that was enacted last month. “Requests such as these can not be honored after one year and must be dated prior to February 5, 2008, unless extended by Congress.”

Comcast will also comply with disclosure demands presented in the form of National Security Letters. However, the manual says, “Attention must be paid to the various court proceedings in which the legal status of such requests is at issue.” …

At the same time, “Comcast reserves the right to respond or object to, or seek clarification of, any legal requests and treat legal requests for subscriber information in any manner consistent with applicable law.”

Aftergood obtained a copy of the manual, “Comcast Cable Law Enforcement Handbook,” September 2007, available here (.pdf).

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