The clandestine collaboration between Sprint and the US government has taken a bitter turn. It has been alleged that Sprint overcharged on the governmental wiretaps. Now, the US government is suing the company.
Until a few years ago, US government didn’t even openly recognize that it nicked away any data from major wireless carriers. Then thanks to Edward Snowden, the admission was made easier for the government, although it came with many justifications and explanations. Now, it seems that all is in the open.
Typically, government needs to install special equipment at a wireless carrier’s facilities in order to gain access to the data it is looking for. The costs of the equipment are reimbursed by the government. In the case of Sprint, a complaint filed by US government in US District Court in San Francisco says, “Sprint inflated its charges by approximately 58 percent. As a result of Sprint’s false claims, the United States paid over $21 million in unallowable costs from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010.”
The crux of the suit is that Sprint overstated its expenses, gaining an extra $21 million by strong-arming the government. One wonder if the government would’ve paid such a huge ‘additional’ sum if the agreement involved a more legal tender.
Sprint is apparently aware of the kind of embarrassment such a case can cause government in the long-run, and is fighting back. A spokesperson for the company stated, “Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance. The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law.”