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Saturday, January 11, 2014

CREDO: The first phone company to publish a transparency report isn't AT&T or Verizon

Dear Tenney,
The first phone company to publish a transparency report isn't AT&T or Verizon
This week CREDO made headlines by becoming the first telecom carrier to publicly report government requests for private information about our subscribers.
We issued this first-ever telecom transparency report in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's dragnet that collects information about the phone calls, emails and other communications of virtually all Americans.
The headline in the Washington Post read: "The first phone company to publish a transparency report isn't AT&T or Verizon." It's CREDO.
This is a very big deal. In addition to the Washington Post article, the influential tech site Mashable wrote a piece from the industry perspective: "Small Carrier 'CREDO Mobile' Publishes Industry's First Transparency Report". And Wired offered a longer piece with an historical perspective titled "Telecom Believed to Be at Center of Gov Court Fight Files Surveillance Transparency Report".
We're proud of our long history defending civil liberties and fighting against abuses of power that threaten our constitutional rights to privacy, not just for our phone customers, but for all Americans. Despite the shocking revelations of NSA abuses, the U.S. government continues to defend unconstitutional programs to systematically spy on Americans. So it's up to companies like ours to lift the curtain to the extent allowed by law and fight for our constitutional rights.
CREDO opposes overreaching government surveillance of American citizens, and has fought for full repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, and to that end is working to pass Rep. Rush Holt's Surveillance State Repeal Act. During the Bush Administration, CREDO fought against the unprecedented federal wiretapping of American citizens without any court order and the cover-up that followed, including advocating for an end to the retroactive immunity granted to protect telecom companies from facing charges for colluding with the NSA in the illegal wiretapping of Americans.
True reform of our surveillance state will require action by Congress or the courts. Until full repeal of these laws is successful, CREDO is endorsing the USA Freedom Act to halt the dragnet indiscriminately sweeping up the phone records of Americans under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and to provide much-needed transparency for National Security Letters and other warrantless spying on our citizens. It's also important to note that we oppose Sen. Feinstein's recent intelligence bill (the so-called "FISA Improvements Act") which, under the guise of reform, does nothing to prevent the rampant 4th and 1st Amendment abuses that have become routine practices of a rogue NSA and other intelligence agencies, and in fact would codify the bulk collection practices of the NSA that so many Americans oppose.
CREDO has given nearly $2,000,000 to civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Constitutional Rights, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Demand Progress, and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.
We are proud to have an aggressive legislative agenda backed up by the activism of CREDO Action, with its nearly 3.5 million members. In the last year alone, our activists have made over 5,800 phone calls, sent 10,967 individual letters in the mail, and submitted more than 1,100,000 petition signatures and public comments protesting abuses of our 4th and 1st Amendment rights by the NSA, FISA courts, and federal law enforcement authorities. And now, as a telecom carrier, our transparency report represents a small and achievable step forward towards improved civil liberties protections and NSA reforms advocated by CREDO.
You can take action now to fight for our civil liberties with the following actions:
While we're proud of how high our transparency report raises the bar for other telecoms like AT&T and Verizon in terms of frequency of reporting and detail of information provided about government requests, it's important to note that due to existing U.S. surveillance statutes that CREDO is on the record opposing, such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, our report and those of other service providers may fall short of full transparency. Under such statutes, gags may be imposed on telecom companies that prohibit any discussion of certain types of requests for customer information, such as National Security Letters (NSLs) and orders under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, as well as whether such hypothetical orders have been complied with or whether they have been challenged in court.
Thank you for being part of CREDO -- as an activist you help keep these issues on our national agenda.
Michael Kieschnick, CEO, and Becky Bond, Political Director

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