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No Wiretapping Immunity For Telecoms

Bush veto seen as likely for bill

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The gauntlet has been laid down for the White House to pick up and veto a House bill that does not provide retroactive immunity for lawbreaking telecoms that wiretapped without warrants.

If AT&T and other big telcos fed the National Security Agency a stream of data pilfered from switching rooms, it may come out in court. However, President Bush has promised to veto any bill that lacks immunity for the telcos.

For now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is happy the House of Representatives passed a “compromise surveillance bill” minus the immunity craved by the White House and the telecoms accused of engaging in wiretapping.

The issue of illegal wiretapping arose with the Hepting v AT&T class action lawsuit that started in January 2006. Public awareness of the spying increased when a whistleblower named Mark Klein provided testimony and evidence a switching room in San Francisco captured all Internet traffic passing through the AT&T facility.

Though the lawsuit seemed destined for dismissal under an appeal made to apply states’ secrets privileges, Hepting continued to move through the judicial process. With the Bush Administration winding down to a close, we have to wonder if a pardon from the White House might undo all of the casework done to date on Hepting.

No Wiretapping Immunity For Telecoms
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