EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

July 11, 2013

Around the World and Nation

(Continued)

Phone companies charge millions for costs, web data cheap

WASHINGTON (AP) — How much are your private conversations worth to the government? Turns out, it can be a lot, depending on the technology.

In the era of intense government surveillance and secret court orders, a murky multimillion-dollar market has emerged. Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, but with little public scrutiny, surveillance fees charged in secret by technology and phone companies can vary wildly.

AT&T, for example, imposes a $325 “activation fee” for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Meanwhile, email records like those amassed by the National Security Agency through a program revealed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden probably were collected for free or very cheaply. Facebook says it doesn’t charge the government for access. And while Microsoft, Yahoo and Google won’t say how much they charge, the American Civil Liberties Union found that email records can be turned over for as little as $25.

In tiny tourist town, mayor is 4-year-old

DORSET, Minn. (AP) — Supporters of the mayor in the tiny tourist town of Dorset can stuff the ballot box all they want as he seeks re-election. The mayor — a short guy — is known for his fondness of ice cream and fishing. And he’s got the county’s top law enforcement official in his pocket.

Say hello to Mayor Robert “Bobby” Tufts. He’s 4 years old and not even in school yet.

Bobby was only 3 when he won election last year as mayor of Dorset (population 22 to 28, depending on whether the minister and his family are in town). Dorset, which bills itself as the Restaurant Capital of the World, has no formal city government.

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