Planet News Views

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lawsuit Attempts To Stop Telephone Company's Involvement in NSA Surveillance Program

By Scott McLean

Assuming a leading role in the fight against surveillance without court authorization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Tuesday filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T.

The organization accused the US telephone company of "violating the law and privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data mine Americans' communications," EFF said in a press release.

The eavesdropping program was first reported by The New York Times in December and since that time President Bush and the NSA have heard criticisms from various organizations.

The controversial use of wiretaps without court approval amounts to a federal agency listening to conversations yet not getting a court warrant.

Last week the American Civil Liberties Union called for an thorough investigation of the wiretapping program. The President in a press conference called the wiretapping program "legal" and added that only terror suspects calls were being monitored.

Since the time the public became aware of the program, now it is believed that millions of American telephone and internet communications have been intercepted and analyzed, EFF stated.

"The NSA program is apparently the biggest fishing expedition ever devised, scanning millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails for 'suspicious' patterns, and it's the collaboration of US telecom companies like AT&T that makes it possible," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston.

An injunction to stop the telephone company from participation in the NSA program as well as billions of dollars in damages for violating federal privacy laws are being sought in the lawsuit, the EFF commented.

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