Monday, May 22, 2006

NSA Telco whistle-blower uncut

Wired posted the raw content behind the USA Today story today. As a former Telco employee I can attest to it's aura of accuracy, both in technical details and it's description of the telco corporate culture, notoriously one of the most toxic industries. If you want to refer to these documents later, I'd recommend saving them - this publication could be challenged.

A minor point that I found arresting was the linkage between spying and union busting:
The NOC referred to is in Bridgeton, Missouri, and controls WorldNet operations. (As a sign that government spying goes hand-in-hand with union-busting, the entire (Communication Workers of America) Local 6377 which had jurisdiction over the Bridgeton NOC was wiped out in early 2002 when AT&T fired the union work force and later rehired them as nonunion "management" employees.) The cut-in work was performed in 2003, and since then new circuits are connected through the "splitter" cabinet.
I've been wondering how our own security services interacted with the Telcos - The more union jobs replaced with management or contract positions, the easier to hide something like this. Canadian telcos have down-sized thousands of full time jobs, and replaced them with automation, temps and contract workers, and frequently with management.

People looked at the vicious anti-immigrant rhetoric of Gwyn Morgan and thought the Calgary corporate Oil culture it revealed must be the most right wing in Canada. Compared to the Calgary telecommunications culture the oil guys are fluffy bunnies.

A bizarre mix of Ayn Rand and Maxim magazine, the gold chains and power ties crowd running the telcos have a scary level of open contempt for their employees, it's a very incestuous community - possibly because no one else will have anything to do with them. The bonds of family, marriage and less formal arrangements network the telco management class like a modern day Byzantine aristocracy.

The phone companies and cable operators are locked in a life or death battle for control of the pipe entering your home. It's perhaps instructive that public phone company Sasktel was off the mark and providing IP TV - digital TV though the phone line as a full-fledged product literally years before the private phone companies who are only now getting off the starting block.

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