Verizon is one of the phone companies that secretly provided phone records to the NSA as part of the NSA wiretapping scandal where citizens were spied on by the US government without warrants (illegally). Now, Verizon is claiming that their actions are protected speech. And I am saying that Verizon must have some enviable drug connections — at the very least, to let their employees sleep at night. Snip:
Verizon is one of the phone companies currently being sued over its alleged disclosure of customer phone records to the NSA. In a response to the court last week, the company asked for the entire consolidated case against it to be thrown out—on free speech grounds.
* Bush administration proposes retroactive immunity for phone companies
The response also alleges that the case should be thrown out because even looking into the issue could violate state secrets, of course, but a much longer section of the response tries to make the case that Verizon has a First Amendment right to “petition” the government. “Based on plaintiffs’ own allegations, defendants’ right to communicate such information to the government is fully protected by the Free Speech and Petition Clauses of the First Amendment,” argue Verizon’s lawyers.
Essentially, the argument is that turning over truthful information to the government is free speech, and the EFF and ACLU can’t do anything about it. In fact, Verizon basically argues that the entire lawsuit is a giant SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit, and that the case is an attempt to deter the company from exercising its First Amendment right to turn over customer calling information to government security services.