Two of the phone companies, namely T-Mobile and Verizon, have been let off the hook from any surveillance by the NSA. The reason is that they are partially owned by foreign interests. That saved them from being hounded by the NSA.
Both T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless were spared harassment at the hands of the NSA. They were not issued court warrants or ordered to hand over their phone call records. There were hassles involved in handling these companies due to their non-USA ties. According to The Wall Street Journal, there would have been too many complexities that would have to be resolved, so the NSA decided to let them be. The German Deutsche Telekom owns three quarters of T-Mobile. And UK-based Vodafone has a 50% stake in Verizon. While this home turf advantage did serve them well, nevertheless the United States agencies had their way in the end since the majority of the stream flowed through American networks.
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The NSA has employed various ploys to gather huge amounts of data on telephone calls made by people. Meanwhile, AT&T and Sprint have decided to play ball with the NSA. Thus they are fully cooperating with the agency and giving away all the required information. That may be a factor in their getting contracts with the governmental agencies.
These measures taken to infiltrate the suspicious saboteurs who want to hurt the United States are legally justified under the Patriot Act. And although the content of the phone call cannot be monitored, the location, time and distance are noted down in the surveillance scheme. Sprint meanwhile is undergoing a $21.6 billion merger with the Japanese conglomerate, Softbank. And the surprising fact is that the US lawmakers are content with this takeover even though it makes Sprint strictly off-limits to the authorities. Softbank is purported to put Mike Mullen, the Joint Chief of Staff on top in the new work environment of Sprint. This way maybe Sprint won’t bother the NSA as much as it would have otherwise.
Most of the American public is not averse to having its phone records tapped or their emails monitored if they can get a little security from the threat of terrorism. This has prodded on the NSA to begin a whole scale operation to get to the bottom of the conversations that occur online. The main reason is of course the recent Boston Marathon Bombing which shook the US. To prevent any such blatant acts of terrorism and extremism in the future, the NSA is taking this radical action of looking into the private daily conversations of ordinary citizens.