Court Says It's Fine That Telecommunications Companies Collaborated With Federal Wiretaps

A U.S. appeals court says it’s just fine that certain telecommunications companies cooperated with the National Security Agency by monitoring customers’ email and phones, upholding a 2008 law. This means they’ve got immunity, rendering 33 lawsuits against them ineffective.

The case revolves around certain telecoms assisting the NSA to gather intelligence through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act, authorized by former President George W. Bush, says the Associated Press (via Politico). The lawsuits accused those companies of violating the law as well as customer privacy by spying on them.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, who argued the case before the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “I think what Congress did was an abdication of its duty to protect people from illegal surveillance.”

Another ruling yesterday also decided that legal immunity was necessary for private companies helping the government gather intelligence, because if those telecoms thought they might be prosecuted, they’d be less likely to help with the whole spying thing.

Court OKs immunity for telecoms in U.S. wiretap case [Politico]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.