I just can't tell anymore after hearing about this one.

The FBI has gone on the defensive this week after going on what can only be described as bare-knuckle offense on behalf of AT&T and Verizon.

Here's the poop:

The FBI raided a couple of data storage centers in the Dallas area in recent days seizing everything "down to the power strips". The search warrant was presumbably part of an investigation into a number of companies who collectively are in arrears to AT&T and Verizon for some 120 million connectivity minutes.

Granted, if true, that's a lot of unpaid minutes and it sounds like someone is up to no good. The FBI search warrant, in fact, paints a case that goes beyond past due bills and is out and out fraud.

Perhaps, I say.

However, I repeat; however....

1.) Well beyond the companies under investigation, literally hundreds of businesses who are customers using those data centers for co-location services for their own company networks were affected. Many were knocked offline and left with no access to their system, including e-mail access. 911 service was even out of order for some area residents. Estimated financial losses for all those businesses is believed to be in the millions. Thanks a lot Quantico boys and girls. As if the economy isn't making things hard enough these days.

2.) At one location, some 220 servers, along with various routers and switches; some belonging to the data center and some belonging to innocent customers not under investigation were confiscated. One such company had over $30,000 in network hardware seized. When a few customers, not named in the search warrant, showed up at the scene asking that their gear and data be spared; the FBI refused to cooperate and instead threatened to arrest them.

My question: doesn't the FBI have anything better to do than function as "repo man" for corporations? Who's keeping an eye out for the next Al Qaeda plot, while they do this instead?

Literally hundeds of businesses were brought to a standstill costing them lost revenue that could mean the difference between making it or not in this economy. Losses are already estimated to be in the millions of dollars.

What about all the "data" the FBI will have to sift through before sorting what is related to possible criminal activity and what is not? What about the privacy of the innocent companies and, more importantly, the privacy of their customers? How do you feel about the government seizing your corporate data or your records?

Last but not least; AT&T and Verizon have some nerve sicking the FBI on anyone for billing disputes. The telecom industry is notorious for incorrect billing. In fact, there are companies in the world finding a brisk business helping other companies read the fine print of their monthly statements making corrections to recover overpayments.

You live by the sword, you die by the sword.

Some parting paranoid thoughts:

- Do you know where all your corporate data is actually stored and by whom? Then how do you know you might not be next?

- These are the parties that helped the NSA tap the phone lines of innocent-until-proven-guilty American citizens. Knowing that, should we even be surprised?