​What can a business or an organization do when sensitive legal matters severely constrain, if not altogether silence, its ability to communicate due to court orders or the threat of litigation? That's the situation facing Verizon and other telecommunication companies embroiled in the growing controversy over the National Security Agency's program to collect and store the phone numbers and duration of all phone calls on demand. Muzzled by their arrangement with the NSA, the telecoms need to figure out how to respond to the “how could you?” criticism raining down on them from customers, regulators and interest groups. Situations like these demand surrogates. Verizon and others need to act to fast prepare former executives, ex-legal counsel or other credible allies to act as “unofficial” spokespersons. They need to ask others to make sure the facts get out about their companies' participation in a national security program – but they need to get the facts out without running afoul of the feds. The media demands of this story are enormous and are not likely to dissipate any time soon, especially with the new revelations that the NSA has been tapping into data from internet service providers and internet companies since 2007. Given the heightened scrutiny, a team of surrogates will need to be briefed, prepped and trained so that they are prepared when the media are directed to them for comment. Verizon and its colleague companies also need to persuade their industry trade groups to swing into action. And, it's time for their lobbyists to earn their keep by applying pressure on the federal government to explain these data collection and data mining programs and the value they deliver when it comes to investigating and preventing domestic terrorism. In the Verizon story, the company reportedly surrendered three months of call records in compliance with a court order. But a different communications dynamic faces the Internet giants caught up in PRISM data mining story. If companies like Apple, Microsoft and Facebook truly did not give the NSA permission to collect information directly from their servers, the questions these companies face from their customers are much more fundamental: How can we trust you? Where are the security standards designed to protect my personal privacy? My business records? Why is it important to maintain constructive, friendly relations with former executives and to create allies among industry groups and partners in your field? You never know when you might need them.