Millions Of American Tax Dollars Pay For Expensive Government Surveillance
Do you know what adds insult to injury with this government surveillance fiasco? We are the ones who pay for our conversations and emails to be tracked. Millions of American tax dollars are handed over to law enforcement and U.S. government agencies to cover the expense of tapping into our private lives, reports USA Today.
AT&T charges Big Brother a $325 activation fee to place bugs into our phone lines and a $10 maintenance fee. Verizon is a little more demanding; this phone company charges $775 for the first 30 days of surveillance and $50 per month thereafter. All secretly paid for by our U.S. tax dollars.
Emails are a little bit cheaper. The American Civil Liberties Union releases email records for about $25. Facebook is much more generous and does not charge the government a dime for access to profiles. Other email services such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google refuse to disclose the amount they charge.
A “murky multi-million dollar market,” USA Today claims, has emerged from spying on Americans and civil liberties groups want these businesses to continue to charge to government. If tracking the American public becomes too cheap, that would encourage more unwarranted wiretaps than needed. “[P]rivacy advocates also want companies to be upfront about what they charge and alert customers after an investigation has concluded that their communications were monitored,” it adds.
The FBI, in an emailed statement, said if they feel that the charges are too exorbitant, it “tries to work with the carrier to understand its cost structure.” Verizon said that with only a team of 70 employees, it’s becoming more expensive to accommodate the 25 million requests it receives from the government annually. Between 2007 and 2011, Verizon has collected between $3 million and $5 million a year from the government. AT&T estimates about $24 million collectively between during the same period.
One narcotics case in New York cost the government $2.9 million for wiretapping; “The average wiretap is estimated to cost American taxpayers $50,000,” said RT.com
The U.S. government has long benefited from access to phones and Internet traffic to catch terrorists and high-profile criminals. In 1994, the government allocated $500 million for wiretapping. Government surveillance is not going anywhere and the business is only growing.
How do you feel about your tax dollars going towards this cost?