Wireless carriers on mute as U.S. top court hears big privacy case

"Unlike internet firms, telephone providers require government licenses to operate and many have signed contractual agreements that mandate cooperation with the government on legal processes, said Albert Gidari, a lawyer who represented phone and internet companies on surveillance issues for 20 years.

Digital rights activists said this fact makes U.S. carriers reluctant to pick privacy fights with the government.

“On these issues,” Gidari said, “it does not serve them to be very vocal.”"