AT&T wants privacy rights it denies to real people

  • Posted on: 19 January 2011
  • By: Connecticut Man1

Reaching for more corporate "personhood", AT&T would like more privacy rights:

As Citizens United Turns 1, U.S. Supreme Court Considers Corporate Personhood Again

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on a case between AT&T and the Federal Communications Commission [1], revisiting the legal concept of “corporate personhood” last strengthened under the court’s Citizen United ruling on corporate campaign spending. (That controversial ruling has its first anniversary [2] this week.)

The case before the court focuses on whether AT&T, a corporation, can stop government agencies from releasing information obtained for law enforcement purposes by claiming such disclosures would violate the company’s “personal privacy [3].”

The phrase is included as an exemption in the text of the Freedom of Information Act, a federal law that instructs government agencies on what information to make public. As the SCOTUS blog notes, however, there’s no specific definition [4] of the words “personal privacy,” so it’s not clear whether a corporation can qualify as a person in this case.

If rulings in the lower courts are any indication of the direction this will go, then they will, again, gain even more super citizenry status.

The lower court, the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, sided with AT&T in an earlier ruling, stating that corporations are capable of being embarrassed, harassed and stigmatized by public disclosures. If the Supreme Court agrees, it could limit how much information federal agencies are able to release about the companies they've investigated. (Here's Bloomberg, with more background [5].)

Can't have these poor, defensless mega-corporations being embarrased by exposing what they actually do, can we?

And little surprise that the Chamber of Commerce is trying its darndest to help another massive corporation.

There is n irony, here, given AT&T's penchant for spying on real people for the government, nevermind their ability to spend limitless amounts of cash on political action as well as on marketing if they had an image problem to begin with.

This is just another grab for more super citizenry personhood rights than real people with limited bank accounts and no stabe of lobbyists, the other 99.9 percent of Americans, will ever have.