Judge Hears Arguments on 'State Secrets Privilege' and Customer Privacy
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal judge today that the government should not be allowed to use the "state secrets privilege" to preempt the class-action lawsuit against AT&T.
EFF's suit accuses AT&T of collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in illegally spying on millions of Americans -- handing over customers' telephone and Internet records and communications without any legal authority. Department of Justice lawyers argued today that even if the NSA program is illegal, pursuing the case might expose "state secrets." However, EFF attorneys asked the judge to allow the case to proceed, considering the privilege in regards to specific evidence and situations instead of derailing the suit all together.
"We have shown that AT&T is diverting traffic wholesale to the NSA," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "It is not a secret, and it is no reason to deny AT&T customers the opportunity to show the court that this dragnet surveillance program violates the law and their privacy rights."
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker also heard motions to dismiss from AT&T Inc. and AT&T Corp. Additionally, Walker heard requests from media groups to intervene and unseal critical evidence filed in the lawsuit.
"We can be safe, secure, and keep within the rule of law," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Our legal system demands that the court decide whether this wholesale surveillance program is proper."
For more on the AT&T lawsuit:
Electronic Frontier Foundation