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Old 03-03-2014, 08:54 PM   #1
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U.S. sues Sprint, claims overbilled on conventional wiretaps

http://m.sfgate.com/nation/article/U...on-5286007.php

NATION U.S. sues Sprint, claims overbilled on conventional wiretaps

Bob Egelko | March 3, 2014

Criminal defendants commonly complain that they've been illegally wiretapped, but on Monday the wiretappers filed their own complaint - a Justice Department lawsuit accusing Sprint Communications of overcharging the government by more than $21 million for the costs of bugging people's phones.

Telecommunications companies that comply with government orders to enable federal agents to eavesdrop on phone calls are entitled to reimbursement for their costs. But the suit said Sprint had inflated its bills by 58 percent by secretly including the costs of financing improvements to its equipment between January 2007 and July 2010.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco - the same court in which the Justice Department has fended off lawsuits over years of secret surveillance of phone calls and e-mails between Americans and alleged foreign terrorists. In 2008, Congress shielded Sprint and other telecommunications companies from liability for cooperating with the surveillance program.

Monday's suit involved conventional wiretaps, which usually are issued in criminal cases and require judicial approval. A 1995 federal law required the government to pay telecoms "reasonable costs" of the wiretap equipment they had already installed. But those reimbursements covered only pre-1995 equipment, the suit said, and the Federal Communications Commission ruled in 2006 that the companies couldn't bill the government for post-1995 upgrades.

Sprint, which took part in the FCC proceedings, nevertheless included the financing costs of improved equipment in its bills until 2010, when the company changed its rules to exclude those charges, the suit said.

"As alleged, Sprint overbilled law enforcement agencies for carrying out court-ordered intercepts, causing a significant loss to the government's limited resources," U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement.

Sprint denied any overcharging.

"Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance," the company said. "The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law."

The overcharged agencies, according to the lawsuit, included the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshal's Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service. Of those, the DEA incurred the largest bills, more than half the total, the suit said.

It did not say whether secretive entities such as the CIA and the National Security Agency were similarly overcharged.

The suit seeks reimbursement of the alleged overpayments and additional financial penalties.

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mal: begelko@sfchronicle.com

Last edited by jessep28; 03-04-2014 at 01:41 AM. Reason: Clean up pasted text not part of article.
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:40 PM   #2
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even the government gets screwed by sprint.

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Old 03-03-2014, 11:01 PM   #3
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even the government gets screwed by sprint.

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Old 03-04-2014, 12:42 AM   #4
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I don't pity either party. While I think that there are some legitimate cases in which law enforcement can eavesdrop on calls, I think that it should be so rare that, well, it rarely happens.

Hmm.

Perhaps Sprint can publicly state in court every instance in which law enforcement personnel listened to citizens. This might just embarrass law enforcement and create enough of a public backlash that changes are made into just who and how often privacy is violated.

With the IRS "targeting" scandals over the past couple of years, it would be interesting to know just who had their conversations tapped...and why.

Of course, Sprint won't like any negative "over charging" publicity either. So, this could be a win-win situation for John Q. Public!

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Old 03-04-2014, 09:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YPG View Post
http://m.sfgate.com/nation/article/U...on-5286007.php

NATION U.S. sues Sprint, claims overbilled on conventional wiretaps

..."As alleged, Sprint overbilled law enforcement agencies for carrying out court-ordered intercepts, causing a significant loss to the government's limited resources," U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement...
[/email]
Good try Sprint, good try.
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Old 03-04-2014, 06:48 PM   #6
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Certainly won't help pissing the DOJ off when Sprint(Softbank) is still considering a play for T-Mobile.

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/03/...t-mobile-deal/
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:22 PM   #7
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Heh, these clowns are stealing money to make their network better, and they still can't make their network better.

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Certainly won't help pissing the DOJ off when Sprint(Softbank) is still considering a play for T-Mobile.

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/03/...t-mobile-deal/
This could not have come at a better time.
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:52 PM   #8
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If this article is to believed by BGR then Sprint's lawyers con concentrate on the DOJ lawsuit since they won't be wasting time on the merger.

http://bgr.com/2014/03/05/sprint-t-m...merger-news-2/
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