SCC rejected ACLU’s first request filed last month; AG did not respondRichmond, VA—The ACLU of Virginia has again called on the State Corporation Commission and Attorney General Robert McDonnell to launch investigations of telecommunications companies in Virginia that may have illegally shared caller information with the National Security Agency. The request follows media reports in May that the NSA has been collecting call information on millions of American residents without warrants.
The information gathered includes telephone numbers called, time, date, and direction of calls, and is considered part of the war on terror. According to USA Today, AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon voluntarily provided caller information to the NSA.
This is the second time the ACLU of Virginia has asked the SCC and the AG to investigate telecommunications companies in Virginia. After the ACLU filed complaints on May 24, the SCC wrote that it did not intend to launch an investigation. The AG did not respond.
Today’s requests for investigations are the same as those filed on May 24 except that they are made on behalf of 802 Virginia residents who have asked the ACLU to assist them. The names of each of the 802 persons have been mailed to the AG and the SCC.
“This is a broadside attack on privacy in which the private sector and the government have colluded on an unprecedented scale to invade our personal space,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “Yet in Virginia, the SCC claims it does not have the authority to investigate, and the AG apparently won’t investigate.”
“It is hard to believe that no one in Virginia’s government seems to care enough to at least determine whose records may have been illegally shared with the NSA, and what was in those records,” added Willis. “The AG and the SCC may feel comfortable ignoring a request from the ACLU, but we’re hoping that 802 residents will get their attention.”
In his response to the ACLU’s May 24 complaint, SCC General Counsel William H. Chambliss wrote that he is “unaware of any action the Commission could undertake to resolve these matters.” The ACLU maintains that the SCC has been given broad powers under Virginia Code § 12.1-12 to administer the laws that govern corporations doing business in Virginia Commonwealth and to regulate the services of all public service companies.
Relevant Documents (pdf): ACLU of Virginia's Letters of Complaint, May 24, 2006 State Corporation Commission's Reply, June 1, 2006 ACLU's Complaint to SCC with 802 Virginia Residents, June 15 ACLU's Complaint to AG with 802 Virginia Residents, June 15
Contact: Kent Willis, 804/644-8022