Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stop The Spying!

  • Stop the Spying!

From my friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Countless citizens have told Congress to reject telecom immunity, but the Senate is still threatening to pass a bill giving immunity to lawbreaking phone companies. It's time to get creative and move beyond words. Let's show our elected representatives who supports the rule of law -- ordinary Americans from across the country. We'll deliver your multimedia messages to lawmakers to drive the point home: no immunity for lawbreaking telecoms! (more info)

I've faxed my Senators and told them that I think retroactive immunity is a bad thing.
My friends over at Firedoglake have some methods and specific points you can make to your senators.

Tell them to vote "no" on cloture. It is well past time that respect for the rule of law and the role of Congress in the balance of powers was restored:

(Spocko side note: Isn't cloture a horrible word? It sounds like a blood condition. "The patient had a heart attack because his veins and arteries were full of cloture."

I think I'll also focus on the financial angle of this (see previous post). It's a long shot message in a different space, but if you want to ignore the politics and ignore the warrentless wiretapping you can focus on the cynical money part, "The telcos knew it wasn't legal, there were giving assurances by someone that it would never be a problem. They rolled the dice and bet that the Bush people could cover up deal but they lost. So now they need to pay the price. It's just business."

And when I say they knew it wasn't legal at the time I'm basing that on the one company that DIDN'T play ball who was then punished. Qwest. At the time Qwest thought that the American people wouldn't want them to break the law and eventually they would pay. They guessed wrong at the time. So you can make this call to your Senators in support of the people at Qwest who stood up for doing the right thing but were punished for it.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Questions on Telco Immunity for John Hodulik and Friends

One thing that nobody is talking about is the money involved if the telco retroactive immunity bill DOESN'T get passed as part of the FISA bill.

If you are a telco legal person and have several massive multi-million dollar lawsuits hanging over your head, and possibly some C-level executives bosses facing jail time, don't you think you would work every angle to get that immunity? If you are someone who is facing a big financial hit might you authorize some "walking around money" to help the problem go away? (Like my lingo? Picked that up from "The Wire.")

What would you do as a telco lobbyist? Who would you talk to? What would you offer? (Legally of course!)

What if you are a financial analyst in the telco space?
Are financial analysts even paying attention? If not, then I'll bet it is because they know the telcos have told them "We've got it covered."

Because if big money at stake they will NOT be pinching pennies to get that immunity. What is that phrase the poker players use? I think they might go "all in". So we could be looking for them to tip their hand because of their eagerness. And we might want to ask the analysts, "What do you estimate the telcos are spending to get immunity? Enough to show up as a hit to quarterly earnings? Or will it just going to be under the standard "Government Affairs" budget and "consulting fees"?

I'm sure they have told the analysts that no silly bloggers like Glenn Greenwald or Jane Hamsher or failed presidential candidates will get in the way of their immunity. Besides, they just have to go to DiFi because they know she'll listen to reason, she understands the needs of the stockholders (which trump everything for some people). They will talk to her about the jobs lost in her state if they don't get immunity. They will remind her how they were just being Patriotic!

If a telecom financial analyst DID stumble on this, there are some questions I would ask them:

1. What would it cost the companies if they lost this retroactive immunity fight? Who would be hit the hardest?

2. Is this fight factored into any financial models? Why or Why not? If they lose, will that have an impact on EPS?

3. Do they know about the efforts being made to battle this? (Do they even consider the efforts worthy of notice? If not why not? Have you gotten assurances that the telcos WILL get immunity? What makes them so confident? Have the telcos received assurances? From whom?

4. Are the bloggers who can mobilize a group of people even part of the equation or are they discounted in favor of "real people." aka lobbyists?

Who would I ask these questions? To start, these people:

Telco financial and market analysts

John Hodulik
, UBS Securities LLC

Qaisar Hasan
, an analyst with Buckingham Research for Verison

David Barden,
Telecom Analyst for Banc of America Securities

Chris Larsen, Telecom Analyst for Credit Suisse

Todd Rosenbluth, Telecom Analyst for Standard and Poors

We may never know the answers but at least we got the questions out there.

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