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Beaverton man sues Verizon Northwest for $1 billion
The Oregonian
Saturday, May 13, 2006

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A Beaverton man has filed a $1 billion federal lawsuit against Verizon Northwest, claiming the company violated his privacy rights by releasing his telephone records to the National Security Agency.

The filing in U.S District Court in Portland by Darryl Hines says Verizon passed his information to the spy agency without permission or after-the-fact notification.

Hines, through Portland attorney Christopher Slater, asked the case to be certified as a class action to cover the estimated 1 million Verizon customers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.

Slater said Verizon violated the consumer privacy protections in the federal Telecommunications Act.

The lawsuit was filed a day after USA Today revealed that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the NSA asked Verizon Communications Inc., BellSouth Corp., AT&T Corp. and Qwest Communications International Inc. for millions of telephone records.

Qwest, which serves much of Oregon, refused.

Former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio told the Oregonian he rejected the offer because the warrantless requests violated federal telecommunications laws.

Verizon, which serves Washington County and some other areas in Oregon cooperated, USA Today said.

Verizon spokesman Jonathan Davies, said he could not comment on litigation. a statement from Verizon's New York headquarters said "Verizon does not and will 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."

A similar suit seeking $4 billion in damages from Verizon was filed Friday in New York.

President Bush has refused to confirm or deny the claims in the USA Today article but has defended the government surveillance programs, said the United States did nothing illegal.

"The privacy of all Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address. "The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. We are not trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

Information from: The Oregonian,