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Judge Denies Complete Stay in AT&T Surveillance Case

PRESS RELEASE
February 20, 2007

Government and AT&ampT Cannot Freeze Proceedings During Appeal

San Francisco - A federal judge today ruled that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) can go forward with elements of its class action lawsuit against AT&ampT for collaborating with the government on illegal spying in ordinary Americans -- despite the government and AT&ampT's request to freeze proceedings during an appeal.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker opened the door to beginning the discovery process, allowing EFF to ask "limited and targeted" questions as long as those questions do not overlap with the issues under consideration in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The government wanted to put this case in the deep freeze," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Instead, the court has invited us to move forward with some targeted questions. We're glad to accept that invitation, which will allow progress while respecting the government's national security concerns."

Judge Walker also refused to implement a blanket stay on the other telecommunications surveillance cases transferred to his court. He ruled that unless the parties stipulate to a stay, then "defendants will answer or otherwise respond to the complaint" by March 29. Earlier today, Judge Walker denied requests from media groups to unseal critical evidence in the AT&ampT case.

"We're disappointed that the court did not choose to unseal all of the documents that include or refer to the evidence presented by Mark Klein and our expert, J. Scott Marcus. The government has already agreed that the evidence is neither classified nor a state secret, and is only being held under seal because of AT&ampT's weak trade secrecy claims," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "Given that the privacy of millions of Americans is at stake, we strongly believe that the public would benefit from seeing this evidence for themselves."

Judge Walker did grant the media groups' request to intervene, and said he might revisit the unsealing issue at a later date.

For Judge Walker's full order:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/stayorder220.pdf

For more on EFF's case against AT&ampT:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/

Contacts:

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

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