Are the Phone Companies Gouging Law Enforcement on Wiretap Costs?
Posted on Tue Sep 11, 2012 at 09:08:56 PM EST
Tags: wiretapping (all tags)
To read this "exclusive" report by a news service called GigaOM, one would expect news in the ongoing lawsuit brought by a former New York prosecutor against the major cell phone companies for gouging the FBI, federal and state law enforcement agencies for compliance with wiretap orders.
A former New York prosecutor, John Prather, claims AT&T, Verizon, Qwest and Sprint regularly charged law enforcement agencies 10 times what they should have for routine wiretaps. He’s now suing on behalf of the FBI and state and city police departments to recover many millions of dollars for overcharging that allegedly took place for almost 20 years.
The case provides a window on the evolving world of wiretaps during an era of increasing surveillance. But the case is complicated because Prather stands to get a big chunk of money if the case succeeds and, as the phone companies argue, he may not be a real whistle-blower in the first place.
First, the lawsuit is not new. It was filed almost a year ago. Second, it's a Qui Tam lawsuit which means the prosecutor is essentially a bounty hunter who collects a portion of any proceeds awarded (like a whistleblower), usually about 15 to 25%. [More...]
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