Sunday, September 30, 2007

EFF sues the DOJ for withholding records of telecom surveillance immunity lobbying

By Ryan Paul
Published: September 28, 2007 - 09:43AM CT

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in an effort to obtain records that could shed light on telecommunication industry lobbying activities. The EFF suspects that major telecommunications companies like AT&T have attempted to use political leverage to compel lawmakers to support legislation that would grant the companies legal immunity for their involvement in the federal government's extralegal electronic surveillance program.

The EFF requested records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) last month from the Department of Justice and Office of Legislative Affairs. The records sought by the EFF include documentation of interaction pertaining to FISA amendments and surveillance immunity between Department of Justice officials, representatives of the telecommunications companies, and members of the Senate or House of representatives. The government has failed to process the FOIA request within the 20-day maximum waiting period stipulated by law, so the EFF has followed up its request with a lawsuit (PDF) demanding swift compliance.

Recent reports have revealed evidence that the telecommunications companies have been heavily lobbying for immunity in order to avoid potentially costly and embarrassing litigation.

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