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Court Grants Appeal in AT&T Spying Case

PRESS RELEASE
November 7, 2006

EFF Battles Effort to Dismiss Surveillance Lawsuit

San Francisco - The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced today that it will hear the U.S. government's and AT&T's appeal of a district court's decision allowing the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) case against AT&T to go forward. The lawsuit alleges that AT&T collaborated in the National Security Agency's (NSA's) illegal spying program. The 9th Circuit did not rule on the merits of the appeal.

By this appeal, the U.S. government and AT&T are asserting that the so-called "state secret privilege" prevents the federal judiciary from determining whether the spying program is legal or not. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Judge Walker ruled that the case could continue, noting that "The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."

"It remains the province and the duty of the courts to determine whether the spying program broke the law, and the courts are quite capable of proceeding while respecting both liberty and security," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "We are looking forward to litigating before the 9th Circuit on this important matter."

EFF filed the class-action suit against AT&T in January, alleging that the company has given the NSA secret, direct access to the telephone calls and emails going over its network. In a separate case, a federal judge in Detroit ruled in August that the entire program was unconstitutional.

Judge Walker has set a case management conference for November 17th to consider how EFF's lawsuit and other suits against telecommunications companies can go forward. The hearing will start at 10:30am at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

For the full order from the 9th Circuit:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/appealgranted.pdf

For more on the class-action lawsuit against AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

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

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