BellSouth Corp. says it has conducted an internal review to determine whether it gave customer phone records to the National Security Agency, as was reported last week by USA Today, and announced that it did not.
BellSouth on Monday did say the question was whether it had provided the information under a contract with the NSA, and ultimately confirmed no such contract exists and we have not provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA, according to a company statement.
According to USA Todays report last week, AT&T Inc., BellSouth and Verizon Communications Inc. all gave customer phone records to the NSA, which allegedly was data mining for calling patterns that might point to terrorist plots. Qwest Communications International Inc. was the lone holdout.
USA Today on Tuesday reported it had contacted BellSouth about the NSA story and the company did not challenge the account the night before the article was published. A BellSouth spokesman also told the newspaper on Monday the phone company was not seeking a correction.
Also on Monday, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps released a statement calling for an FCC inquiry into the reports of the major phone companies handing over private records to the government.
There is no doubt that protecting the security of the American people is our governments No. 1 responsibility, Copps said. But in a digital age where collecting, distributing and manipulating consumers personal information is as easy as a click of a button, the privacy of our citizens must still matter. To get to the bottom of this situation, the FCC should initiate an inquiry into whether the phone companies involvement violated Section 222 or any other provisions of the Communications Act.
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