A billion here, a billion there

There was a lawsuit filed yesterday against a few phone companies for billions of dollars for turning over calling records to the government:

“AT&T Corp., BellSouth Corp and Verizon Telecommunications are facing lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages for the decision to turn over calling records to the government, the New York Times reported Saturday.” (Marketwatch)

Meanwhile, the gubmint is trying to get the EFF’s class action lawsuit dismissed, because:

“Only the United States is in a position to protect against the disclosure of information over which it has asserted the state secrets privilege, and the United States is the only entity properly positioned to explain why continued litigation of the matter threatens the national security.” (NY Times)

But Qwest comes out as the good guy, as they blew off the gubmint’s request for info:

“In a written statement, the attorney for former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio said the government approached the company in the fall of 2001 seeking access to the phone records of Qwest customers, with neither a warrant nor approval from a special court established to handle surveillance matters.” (NY Times)