And then there's the leaked memo from Verizon's legal team to employees, outlining the company messaging. It aims to depict, from the inside-out, a company besieged by the draconian hand of the government court order that forced Verizon to hand over private information. While conveniently neither confirming nor denying anything reported in The Guardian — Verizon is under a court ordered gag order, though the White House is playing the same game — the lawyers defend their position: "Verizon continually takes steps to safeguard its customers' privacy," begins the letter from Verizon General Counsel Randy Milch. "Nevertheless, the law authorizes the federal courts to order a company to provide information in certain circumstances. "If Verizon were to receive such an order, we would be required to comply." In other words: Verizon handed over the meta-data to your cellphone records because it just absolutely had to — or that's what Verizon's lawyers want you to think. Of course, the telecommunications beheamoth isn't exactly that innocent.
Verizon doesn't actually care about protecting your data — in fact, the system is set-up just to hand it over to the government, as this enlightening post by an AT&T employee over at Talking Points Memo explains. Phone companies are always looking for ways to collect (and sell!) our data within legal bounds. (The cheeky Photoshop job above at right pretty much sums that up.) Any telecom, these days, just needs to cover its ass. Indeed, the scrambling inside Verizon following Greenwald's scoop has "more to do with its brand reputation with customers and inside the Beltway, rather than legal liability," sources told Politico's Anna Palmer. That's because Verizon knows its safe — especially with official Washington hold the line. "I'm a Verizon customer," Sen. Lindsey Graham said at a hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder this morning. "It doesn't bother me one bit for the NSA to have my phone number."