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Whidbey Telecom protects records

Whidbey Telecom has not given its customers phone records to the federal government, a Whidbey Telecom official said Thursday.

Last week, USA TODAY re-ignited controversy over the issue of domestic spying when it reported that the National Security Administration had secretly collected the phone records of millions of Americans, using data allegedly provided by AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon. BellSouth and Verizon later disputed the story.

Government sources have said that individual calls were not being monitored, and that the NSA is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to ferret out terrorists, according to earlier news reports.

Some Whidbey Island residents have wondered if the local phone company has been involved in providing data to the NSA.

Whidbey Telecom vice-president Julia DeMartini stated the government has made no request for records from her company.

“Whidbey Telecom has not been contacted by the NSA in connection with the NSA program that was reported in the Thursday, May 11, edition of USA Today and have not supplied any records to the NSA in connection with the reported program,” DeMartini said.

“Whidbey Telecom takes the privacy of its customer information very seriously,” DeMartini added.

“Whidbey Telecom applies a high degree of care in responding to governmental requests for customer-specific information. It is our policy not to furnish customer-specific information to governmental authorities unless we are required to do so by a subpoena or judicially-issued warrant, or other form of written governmental request with which we believe we are required to comply,” she said.

Statewide, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission oversees regulation of the telephone industry.

Suzanne Stillwell, consumer affairs specialist for the commission, said that since the USA TODAY story was reported only three consumers had contacted their office by noon Thursday.

“We’re letting the feds manage the problem,” Stillwell said. “We refer all calls of this nature to the Federal Communications Commission.”

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