Some Foreign Telcos Reportedly Defied NSA Phone Spying Order

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T-Mobile and Verizon reportedly refused to kowtow to the National Security Agency’s demand to collect all phone call records. According to the Wall Street Journal, because T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless are owned by European parent companies, they were able to successfully refuse the NSA’s court order.

“T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless don’t participate in their own collection programs because of legal complications stemming, in part, from their foreign ownership. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG owns 74% of T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless is a joint-venture of Verizon Communications Inc. with the U.K.’s Vodafone Group PLC, which owns a 45% stake,” explain Danny Yadron and Evan Perez in their article.
For those who aren’t fans of the NSA’s record-keeping, the Post says that the NSA can still likely capture 99 percent of the phone data anyway, since most traffic is routed through the U.S.

The Journal report is somewhat curious, since the original story from The Guardian was about a leaked court order specifically for Verizon. Only later did we learn that the U.S. was collecting call records from all major carriers. Ironically, it could be that the court order went through, but Verizon was successfully able to combat the NSA’s demands.

Either way, Europe could be a problem for U.S. spying ambitions, as the European Union has vowed to fight their attempts. As more facts come to light, things are going to get harder for the NSA.