BellSouth wants USA Today to take it back and Verizon tries to say “not me” without actually saying “not me”:
El Reg points out the convolutions of BellSouth’s and Verizon’s statements:
“Based on our review to date, we have confirmed no such contract exists, and we have not provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA,” the statement said.
Notice that the statement did not say BellSouth had not supplied any call records to the NSA. If it had, perhaps the retraction would already be in print.
But the statement is crafted to be letter-of-the-law accurate, even if there should be an informal agreement rather than a contract, or if something other than “bulk customer calling records” have been handed over, such as “pretty big piles of customer calling records”. It could also mean that a BellSouth billing contractor or other partner has supplied the information.
Meanwhile, Verizon has said that it “does not provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition”.
Another nice bit of Legalese. This could mean that almost anything is going on. Not providing “unfettered access” might mean that Verizon simply delivers the records to NSA, rather than letting them set up camp on its premises, as AT&T has been accused of doing. Also, as with the BellSouth statement, the wording leaves open the possibility that a contractor is delivering the data.