Verizon Charges The Government $775 To Eavesdrop On A Phone Line


It’s no secret the the U.S. government enjoys taking certain liberties with citizens’ privacy by wiretapping cellphones, but did you know that each time Uncle Sam decides to peek in someone’s phone records they get a big bill from the carrier?

AT&T charges the government a $325 “activation free” for each wiretap and then they rack up an extra $10 a day to keep the line open. Want the NSA to think twice before tapping you? Then maybe you should go with Verizon as their wiretaps cost the most at $775 per month and then $500 for each month after that.

According to a report from Now This News, each carrier sets its own price on the wiretappings, with Cricket and U.S. Cellular providing the cheapest access for around $250. The fees aren’t just limited to wiretappings though. Other tech companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google will turn over email records for $25 according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

It sounds odd that the government would have to pay for a wiretap, but civil liberties groups actually encourage the practice thanks to increased worries that government surveillance has become too cheap as companies have automated the process of obtaining info.

“‘What we don’t want is surveillance to become a profit center,” said Christopher Soghoian, the ACLU’s principal technologist. But “it’s always better to charge $1. It creates friction, and it creates transparency’ because it generates a paper trail that can be tracked.”

Most companies agree to not charge during emergency cases – like if a child has been abducted – and they aren’t allowed to charge for phone logs that show who called a number and how long they talked. However, wiretap fees add up quickly with the average wiretapping cost pegged around $50,000.