Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 2:50am
JUDGE TO DECIDE AT&T SPYING SUIT
[SOURCE: C-Net|News.com 6/23, AUTHOR: Greg Sandoval ]
A U.S. District Court judge must decide whether to throw out a lawsuit alleging that AT&T improperly handed over records of customer phone calls and e-mails to the federal government. Vaughn Walker, a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, heard arguments Friday from AT&T and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the advocacy group that has accused the giant telecommunications company, in a lawsuit filed in January, of assisting the National Security Agency in warrantless electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens. In a statement issued after the hearing before Walker, AT&T said that regardless of whether it worked with the government in this instance, it would be exempt from the lawsuit because Congress has provided immunity to companies that cooperate with the government on "critical national security issues." AT&T hasn't confirmed or denied working with the government. The EFF calls the government surveillance the "largest fishing expedition ever devised" and contends that AT&T has violated the privacy of millions of Americans. "The surveillance program demonstrates a massive disregard for every American's most basic privacy," said Robert Fram, one of the attorneys who argued before Walker on EFF's behalf. "The government has stepped in to prevent the evaluation of that program by contending that it involves 'state secrets,' without any reasonable justification. We need judicial supervision of this surveillance program so that we can have both security against terrorism and protection of civil liberties."
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