Thursday, July 10, 2008

Senate give telcos immunity for mass wiretapping

Well the US Senate has followed the House's lead in passing a law to give retrospective immunity to all the telecommunications companies which actively took part in the Bush administration's mass unconstitutional wiretapping.

"The Senate approved and sent to the White House a bill overhauling controversial rules on secret government eavesdropping today, bowing to President Bush's demand to protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits complaining they helped the U.S. spy on Americans...

The long fight on Capitol Hill centered on one main question: whether to shield from civil lawsuits any telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on American phone and computer lines without the permission or knowledge of a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The White House had threatened to veto the bill unless it immunized companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. from wiretapping lawsuits. About 40 such lawsuits have been filed, and all are pending before a single U.S. District court...

Just under a third of the Senate, including Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, supported an amendment that would have stripped immunity from the bill. They were defeated on a 66-32 vote. Republican rival John McCain did not attend the vote.

Obama ended up voting for the final bill"

Update: Larry Lessig has now shared his views on Obama's change of tack on the telcos immunity. Actually he shared his view that it was "swiftboating" a few days ago not too long after I was wondering what his thoughts on the matter were.

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