An internal memo from Verizon to its employees has leaked to the Web, revealing that the company justified its cooperation with the National Security Agency based on the terms of the government's court order.
Verizon's executive vice president and general counsel, Randy Milch, didn't confirm whether documents obtained by The Guardian were legitimate. But he did say that if Verizon did receive such an order, it would be "required" to comply.
Verizon also was the only company to get zero stars on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's ranking of companies according to their privacy record.
Nor does Verizon have much incentive to push back. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, companies that cooperate with government investigations get liability protection for doing so. Handing over metadata that the feds request for "national security" purposes gives companies vital cover.
"You're pretty much relying on the counsel of the company receiving the order to raise objections if there are any," said Rotenberg, who added that he was shocked when he read the court order. "I helped write the Electronic Communications Privacy Act," he added, "and I never imagined the FISA court" would go to such lengths.
A Verizon spokesperson declined to comment.