Israel: 054-321-6176 / USA - 210-820-3070 alan@weinkrantz.com

In The Interest of National Security, I Applaud AT&T’s Right To Cooperate With State and Federal Law Enforcement Officials

I usually try to stay out of personal political debates in my blog, but in this case I have to make this post…

One of the readers of my other blog sent me an email yesterday calling to my attention an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by columnist David Lazarus, entitled "AT&T Rewrites the Rules:  Your Data Isn’t Yours."

According to the article, starting tomorrow, AT&T will be
issuing an updated privacy policy that will enable the company to share
my personal data with government officials.

Maybe I don’t quite understand the ramifications of this move, but as a consumer, I say this is a very good idea.  I really doubt that the NSA or FBI is going to care that I love to watch The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Simpson’s, or the Three Stooges.

I think what they care about is that if I am doing something that
would endanger, or in any way affect or compromise national security,
they should have the right to watch this data and turn it over to
government officials if my actions are a potential threat to our
nation’s security.

For those of you who think I may be some right wing ultra conservative nut case, you are dead wrong. 

I am a product of Antioch College,
one of the most radically political colleges in the U.S.  I had dear
friends who were Marxist Studies majors and were intent on overthrowing
our government.  I remember we shut down the college for six weeks when
the administration fired six cafeteria workers. Even though I am 30
years out of college, the spirit of personal and political freedom runs
deep through my veins.

I am also major, big-time, pro-Net Neutrality and work with one of the leading proponents on the subject.

But
times are different these days and this is not a matter of keeping the
Internet "open."  Fast forward twenty years in my own personal life
since I left Antioch, and it took me on another adventure. 

I started doing business in Israel.  Over the last 11 years, my day job
has enabled me to work with some of the most amazing and brightest
minds in Israel’s technology sector– with many of our client being
focused on security and digital rights management technologies.

Locally, our long-standing San Antonio-based client, SecureLogix is an IP-based security related company, having brought to market the world’s first telecom firewall.  There’s also Denim Group,
also based in San Antonio, which is becoming one of the leading web
application development firms in the U.S., with a focus on one thing: security.

As far a having my "personal, confidential data and information," the government already has my passport number.  The TSA knows that I was in Israel in April on business and then Cuba (legally) with our local Jewish Federation.
I know that when I go through security entering and leaving Israel, I
get grilled in a thorough security checking process that ensures safe
travel between our two countries.

I’ll tell you something else.  The NSA is ramping up its presence here in San Antonio.
I think AT&T should take the high road and reach out to NSA to
create a technology lab here in our city to help look at developing new
IP-video and broadcasting security technologies.  I also think the
company should enlist its early trial users of its IPTV u-Verse service and create a citizen’s advisory council that can meet and openly address this matter.

I Have Nothing to Hide

You know why I don’t worry about AT&T looking at waz up with my
viewing habits?  I have nothing to hide.  If I want to rent a dirty
movie, I don’t think it’s a threat to national security. 

On the other hand, if I want to create a "how to" video on making
dirty bombs and doing my own broadcasting through a community channel I
can post to through an IP-based video network, then that’s a different
story all together.

Or, if I want to produce an IP-based video conferencing event with
people who don’t like us, and what we stand for, then maybe I might be
in the planning stages of launching some type of attack.

According to Lazarus’ article, AT&T is being sued by San Francisco’s Electronic Frontier Foundation
for supposedly allowing the NSA to get into the company’s data network,
and giving unauthorized to customers’ e-mails and Web browsing.  I
think this is good, for it will bring the conversation here in the
blogosphere forward.  That’s one of the great things about living in a
democracy like ours.

Being an early trial user of the AT&T u-Verse service, I was
more than happy to sign something that says I give AT&T permission
to share my information with the government. 

I don’t have a problem with it, because I have nothing to hide.  That’s also one of ways to keep Internet "open."

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