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Telecoms win immunity in wiretapping case, US court approves separate suit against the government

Dana Wollman, @danawollman
January 2, 2012
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Looks like a case of good news-bad news for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its fight against warrantless wiretapping. A US appeals court upheld a 2008 ruling, granting telecoms such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint immunity for cooperating with the government in its surveillance activities. Still, Judge Margaret McKeown of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals insists that immunity only applies to telecoms, not the government, and that "the federal courts remain a forum to consider the constitutionality of the wiretapping scheme and other claims." Indeed, while the 9th Circuit upheld immunity for telecoms, it also gave the go-ahead for a separate suit against the NSA, former president George W. Bush, senior members of the Bush administration and President Obama for using AT&T's network to conduct "an unprecedented suspicionless general search," according to the filing. The court's decision to allow this suit to proceed marks a reversal of an earlier ruling, in which a lower court said the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to pursue the case.

[Image courtesy PBS]



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