May 12, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

Organization Seeks Information on Verizon’s Illegal Disclosure of Customer Records

PORTLAND, ME -- The Maine Civil Liberties Union, acting as intervenors in a complaint filed by James Cowie with the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), demanded an investigation into whether the Verizon telecommunications company has allowed the NSA to spy on its customers in Maine.

“Monitoring the e-mail and phone calls of millions of innocent Americans does not make us safer, but it does make us less free,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the MCLU.  “The Administration and now apparently the phone companies have violated the Constitution and the public trust in spying on so many Americans without probable cause.”

Following state guidelines for complaints directed toward a utility, the Maine Civil Liberties Union joined James Cowie in organizing a “10 customer complaint” with the utility.  The complaint, which calls on the commission to investigate whether Verizon has allowed the NSA unrestricted access to customer e-mail and phone communications, was filed May 8.  It questions whether circuits have been installed in any Verizon facilities within Maine to facilitate NSA surveillance and whether the records of Maine residents have been included in any data mining samples provided to the NSA. 
 
News reports indicate that at least three companies - Verizon, BellSouth, and AT&T- have complied with requests from the NSA to turn over the calling records of millions of customers across the nation.  The complaint seeks to uncover the extent to which Verizon has allowed spying in Maine.  Original requests to Verizon for that information were met with no comment, but the complaint filed with the utility commission will give Verizon until May 19 to disclose whether it provided the government access to the calling activity of Maine residents.

“Warrantless wiretapping is illegal,” said Bellows.  “No one – not the phone companies and not the President – is above the law.” 

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