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Qwest Told NSA To Bug Off

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Requests for access to customer calls received the brushoff from Qwest’s former CEO, and the blogosphere has turned the beleaguered telecom into something of a hero.

Qwest Communications has not enjoyed the best publicity, with numerous websites hosting complaints, many at length, about the company’s shortcomings. Bad feelings and bad words have been the norm.

Yet today, news of a website called Thank You Qwest began making the rounds. And blogs have been displaying a badge praising Qwest for being NSA-free.

It started when the National Security Agency began making the rounds of telecoms, USA Today reported. While AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth readily capitulated to requests for millions of phone records, Qwest had problems with the request.

Nacchio saw the request as being potentially illegal. Also, should Qwest have been found in violation of the law, immense financial penalties could have been assessed to it. Qwest wanted to see legal backing for the NSA request, which was not accompanied by a court order.

NSA’s response to that, according to the article, proves very interesting:

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest’s lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA’s explanation did little to satisfy Qwest’s lawyers. “They told (Qwest) they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them,” one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest’s suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general’s office. A second person confirmed this version of events.


Nacchio left Qwest in 2002. His successor, Richard Noteabart, reportedly ended talks with the NSA in 2004. However, a spokesperson for Qwest said in the report, “We can’t talk about this. It’s a classified situation.”


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Qwest Told NSA To Bug Off
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