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posted by Cactus on Friday March 07 2014, @02:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the does-this-sound-famliar dept.

r00t writes

"The Obama administration has accused Sprint of overcharging the government to the tune of more than $21 million in wiretapping expenses.

Another lawsuit has been dismissed recently by telco's arguing that New York Deputy Attorney General John Prather technically couldn't file a whistle blower lawsuit under the False Claim Act and claim he himself was the "original source of the information" -- because he filed the original complaint while working for the government.

The Prather case claimed the telco's overcharge for taps in general, but have historically dodged culpability by simply hitting the government with large bills that don't itemize or explain why a wiretap should magically cost $50,000 to $100,000. Now it seems that Sprint is being specifically targeted for this lawsuit. "Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance," Sprint spokesman John Taylor said. "The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law." Though according to the suit, Sprint overinflated charges by approximately 58 percent between 2007 and 2010.

Not only do we get to be spied on, we likely paid for these wiretaps both on the taxpayer side and on the telco side as the companies passed on both real and imaginary wiretap costs to you."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Dutchster on Friday March 07 2014, @02:43AM

    by Dutchster (3331) on Friday March 07 2014, @02:43AM (#12427)

    Sorry to hear Uncle Sam is having such a hard time. I'm pretty sure when I was with Sprint they had an arbitration clause so I couldn't sue them for anything - including the $10.00 per month screw up they managed to keep repeating for six months. I guess arbitration clauses are just for us peons.

    The good news was it only took 20 minutes of my time each month (thank God for speakerphone) to call in and get a "one time courtesy" adjustment to my bill. After six months of that my contract was finally up so I went elsewhere.

  • (Score: 1) by anthem on Friday March 07 2014, @02:54AM

    by anthem (17) on Friday March 07 2014, @02:54AM (#12437)

    If they do a good job (never)... they get paid. If they do a bad job, they get paid.... And now then some.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by big_e on Friday March 07 2014, @09:22AM

      by big_e (2513) on Friday March 07 2014, @09:22AM (#12568)

      You could also say the same about Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, or whoever else is likely your sole choice for broadband internet in your area. If you are lucky you might get your choice of two providers.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by hamsterdan on Friday March 07 2014, @03:04AM

    by hamsterdan (2829) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:04AM (#12441)

    Telcos love overcharging and double dipping. The same SMS gets charged twice here in Canada (even if it's sent via the control channel, costing them about 0$), kinda like a letter needing two stamps (1 to be sent, 1 to be received).

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/The-True-Bandwi dth-Cost-Of-SMS-91379 [dslreports.com]

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by SuperCharlie on Friday March 07 2014, @03:15AM

    by SuperCharlie (2939) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:15AM (#12449)

    Its gotten to the point where our money is more like monopoly money.. 21 million, 21 billion.. whatever.. print some more of the blue ones.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by c0lo on Friday March 07 2014, @03:55AM

      by c0lo (156) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:55AM (#12468) Journal

      Its gotten to the point where our money is more like monopoly money.. 21 million, 21 billion.. whatever.. print some more of the blue ones.

      It's gotten to a point where people don't ask any more "Why the hell do we need wiretapping? What benefit are why getting back from it?", but "Why the hell does it cost us so much to be spied upon by our own govt".

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by SuperCharlie on Friday March 07 2014, @05:12AM

        by SuperCharlie (2939) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:12AM (#12499)

        Ya know.. I ran around screaming (figuratively) for around 3 years about the whole mess. I was ridiculed, called tinfoil hat, called an idiot, and after a while you just get bitter. Im to the point now that I hope we drive the car right into the brick wall.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Friday March 07 2014, @05:37AM

          by c0lo (156) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:37AM (#12508) Journal

          and after a while you just get bitter.

          Bitter - always an acquired taste (I got to enjoy it too).

          Im to the point now that I hope we drive the car right into the brick wall.

          I don't know about car and brick walls (it may be longer and more painful than a sudden stop), but I concur with your general feeling: it will get (much) worse before getting better.

          (meanwhile, enjoy your dose of angostura or absinthe)

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by edIII on Friday March 07 2014, @03:16AM

    by edIII (791) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:16AM (#12450)

    I'm almost not mad that the government is making me pay for wiretaps. I pay nearly a million dollars for a rocket to be fired by a man that might make half that in a year at a man who might make a bare fraction of that in a lifetime already.

    What pisses me off more than *ANYTHING* is that I paid money to Sprint. They need to DIAF.

    Sprint has made it their mission to have the worst customer service possible, the worst security possible, and to enable whole industries of fraud that surround them.

    Last thing I want to do is give taxes to the corporation that thought it was a good idea to sue me because some con artist swindled them out of a few thousand in service charges using my SSN. I even proved to them I never had service.

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 1) by jas on Friday March 07 2014, @04:31AM

      by jas (121) on Friday March 07 2014, @04:31AM (#12489) Homepage

      Sprint is part of Softbank now. I want to think that Satoshi Kon has a plan, but turning this ship around is probably going to require the dismissal of Dan Hesse.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by edIII on Friday March 07 2014, @05:32AM

        by edIII (791) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:32AM (#12506)

        Turning it around will require dismissing their entire legal team, customer service department, all associated corporate policies regarding customer service, CTO, IT responsible for security, entire platforms responsible for customer data, every executive that ever touched a decision regarding the security of their business data, and that one janitor.

        Seriously. That corporation is so stupid and malicious inside. It's like they genuinely hate the consumer. A rare event when I can only say a single good thing about a corporation: Somewhat reasonable speeds on their hotspot technology.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @03:29AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @03:29AM (#12454)

    Hey assholes stop spamming Slashdot with your crappy site. See:

    http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4867363 &cid=46425463 [slashdot.org]
    http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=486735 9&cid=46424847 [slashdot.org]
    http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4867353&cid =46424633 [slashdot.org]

    Yeah yeah we know you hate Slashdot but we don't give a shit. Keep your spam to yourself assfucks.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @03:32AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @03:32AM (#12456)

    and the NCommander takes over.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by NewMexicoArt on Friday March 07 2014, @03:43AM

    by NewMexicoArt (1369) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:43AM (#12462)

    so a wiretap can cost $50,000 to $100,000, and that is only inflated by 58%. i thought we already paid for the NSA to collect all the data, wish the government agencys would share.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by prospectacle on Friday March 07 2014, @03:51AM

    by prospectacle (3422) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:51AM (#12467) Journal

    Market forces only work for the benefit of consumers when there's healthy competition. Putting up cell towers or putting cables in the ground isn't quite a natural monopoly, but it's close. The maximum number of competitors in each area is very low.

    Retail carriers, ISPs, and content-providers can compete effectively, if they all pay the same rate to use the network. It's the same way couriers and shipping companies can compete if they have equal access to the roads. The owners of the infrastructure, on the other hand, do not have the same competitive pressures once they're established, so what's their motivation for providing good service?

    The best model I've seen is where wholesale access is provided at a flat rate to ISPs and carriers. These retailers can compete, but the physical infrastructure and wholesale provider is publicly owned.

    --
    If a plan isn't flexible it isn't realistic
    • (Score: 2) by GungnirSniper on Friday March 07 2014, @04:25AM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Friday March 07 2014, @04:25AM (#12486) Journal

      Is any country using this model today?

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by prospectacle on Friday March 07 2014, @07:14AM

        by prospectacle (3422) on Friday March 07 2014, @07:14AM (#12529) Journal

        I don't know if any countries are using this model exclusively, but there are some state-owned wholesale telcos, which sell network access to various retail providers:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Broadband_Ne twork [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordia [wikipedia.org]

        In Australia, the copper-network owner is also required by law to be a wholesale provider at a fair/equal price, so there are various internet and phone-service companies that all use the same infrastructure but still compete on service and price. It's a private company, though the copper network and the company itself were created and built by the government, and later privatised.

        In general governments seem more willing to roll infrastructure out to all corners of a country, even though it may not be profitable in the short term. As long as they allow an open market for retail service-providers who use that infrastructure, it seems to me the best of both worlds.

        --
        If a plan isn't flexible it isn't realistic
  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @05:05AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @05:05AM (#12496)

    I saw this story on slashdot, like, before it showed up here. I mean, even more tardy than slashdot? Lame!

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Doctor on Friday March 07 2014, @06:03AM

      by Doctor (3677) on Friday March 07 2014, @06:03AM (#12513)

      And yet here you are commenting on it....

      --
      "Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way." - The Doctor
    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Friday March 07 2014, @07:36AM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Friday March 07 2014, @07:36AM (#12537) Journal

      It's like stopping watching broadcast television. You still get the see the same shows, you just have to wait a while, and then you get to see them without commercials all in one go, which is so much more enjoyable. Patience pays.

      • (Score: 2) by buswolley on Friday March 07 2014, @08:10AM

        by buswolley (848) on Friday March 07 2014, @08:10AM (#12543)

        Yea...Like enjoying the game Oblivion now because I can pick it up for only $4...I mean, I'm too busy to be caring about new releases...

        --
        subicular junctures
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Boxzy on Friday March 07 2014, @08:36AM

    by Boxzy (742) on Friday March 07 2014, @08:36AM (#12555) Journal

    They, and we, are the victims here. Who knew that legally, and secretly, forcing a business to undertake economic activity (possibly) against their wishes would have a Fuck You tax? Were it myself it would be a sight more than 58%.

    --
    Go green, Go Soylent.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by zim on Friday March 07 2014, @09:02AM

    by zim (1251) on Friday March 07 2014, @09:02AM (#12561)
    $100,000 is a reasonable cost for being the goverments bitch and doing the dirty work that people despise.

    Hell. 100k is cheap really for that. I'd charge 1 millon each.

    You know the goverment has money. Our money. So soak that rich client. Because you can!

    Not like they can go elsewhere either. So fuck em.

    Pay up uncle sam you sick pervert.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by nightsky30 on Friday March 07 2014, @12:50PM

    by nightsky30 (1818) on Friday March 07 2014, @12:50PM (#12626)

    Sprint overinflated charges by approximately 58 percent between 2007 and 2010

    Didn't wiretapping also increase dramatically during those years? Perhaps Sprint needed to do something to meet the demand (more people, larger infrastructure) and thus inflated their rates. I do hate when my bills aren't itemized. I bet there is enough blame for both sides.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Yow on Friday March 07 2014, @01:21PM

    by Yow (1637) on Friday March 07 2014, @01:21PM (#12634)

    Cell phone company overcharging? I just don't understand... -sarcasm font. This article gave me some satisfaction because for once I felt on equal footing with government for a fleeting moment. The rest: secret-spying-wiretapping - whatever - I'm not just bitter, I've thrown my hands up in surrender. Or maybe it's the futility of caring.