Warrantless wiretapping case kicks off in US

James Middleton

December 2, 2008

1 Min Read
Warrantless wiretapping case kicks off in US

On Tuesday afternoon the Bush administration will go to federal court to defend a law allowing retrospective immunity to communications operators alleged to have spied on their customers and passed information to national security services without a warrant.

The country’s largest operators, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have all been hit with lawsuits following the exposure of a domestic surveillance program implemented in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

At the Tuesday hearing, privacy advocates will argue that the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) takes away Americans’ claims arising out of the First and Fourth Amendments, violates the federal government’s separation of powers as established in the Constitution, and robs innocent telecom customers of their rights without due process of law.

Signed by president Bush earlier this year, the FAA allows for the dismissal of the lawsuits over telcos’ participation in the warrantless surveillance program if the government secretly certifies to the court that the surveillance did not occur, was legal, or was authorised by the president.

The Bush administration is demanding that the cases be dismissed.

Privacy advocacy group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is taking AT&T to court over allegations that the carrier allowed wholesale wiretapping on its network, alleges that private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency.

The EFF is urging congress to repeal the FAA in the next session, and is asking the court to reject the immunity provisions as unconstitutional.

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of telecoms.com | Follow him @telecomsjames

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