SUBPOENA MANAGEMENT….The Wall Street Journal writes today that telephone companies aren’t the only ones having trouble balancing government law enforcement requests with customer privacy concerns:
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement efforts to secure corporate information about clients and suppliers have reached such levels that some companies have had to create special units that do nothing but deal with these demands, a process often called “subpoena management.”
….”Corporate counsel that used to see law-enforcement-related requests five times a year are now getting them sometimes dozens of times a day,” says Susan Hackett, a senior vice president and top attorney for the Association of Corporate Counsel, which represents the legal departments of leading U.S. companies.
….The situation is made even more complicated when the companies are government contractors, vying for federal business or in an industry subject to complicated regulation.
….Since 2001, the pressure on them has grown as the amount of electronic information provided to or compiled by companies has grown to include everything from customer names and addresses to shopping preferences and pastime activities. The Departments of Homeland Security, Defense and Justice as well as the CIA have increasingly viewed this data as a veritable treasure trove that can be tapped to help thwart crimes and identify potential terrorist attacks in the making.
This wouldn’t bother me that much except for two things. First, an awful lot of these requests apparently have nothing to do with terrorism. Second, if AOL’s experience is typical, the vast majority of the requests are just fishing expeditions. Read the whole thing for more details.