Citizens Are Not Permitted to Sue the Government for Spying

The government has refused to let citizens file a class-action lawsuit against telecommunication companies for violating the Telecommunications Act. Apparently there is no doubt that they broke the law or they would let the motion continue. Furthermore, if what the NSA and these telecommunication companies did was lawful, then I would think that implies that Qwest's refusal to comply with the NSA's requests is illegal, but apparently the government doesn't feel they have a strong case. According to quotes in the New York Times, Qwest refused to comply because there was a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process and the requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act.

Below is a statement issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation yesterday:
Early Saturday morning, in the darkest hours of the night, the Department of Justice made good its threat to file a motion to dismiss our class-action lawsuit against AT&T, contending that AT&T's collaboration with the NSA's massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications (which violates the law and the privacy of its customers)--despite being front page news throughout the United States and the subject of government press conferences and Congressional hearings--is a state secret. The motion was accompanied by declarations by Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, Director, National Security Agency and John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence. We will vigorously oppose this motion. Donate to EFF and help stop the illegal spying!
- [DOJ Moves to Dismiss AT&T Class Action under Cover of Night, EFF, May 13, 2006]

posted @ Sunday, May 14, 2006 11:12 PM

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