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EFF Suit Demands Telecom Lobbying Records from Director of National Intelligence

PRESS RELEASE
October 17, 2007
Lawsuit Filed as Congress Debates Letting Industry Off the Hook for Illegal Spying

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 17, 2007

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) today, demanding any information about telecommunications companies' efforts to get off the hook for their role in the government's illegal electronic surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans.

Congress is currently considering granting amnesty to the telecoms -- a blatant attempt to derail lawsuits aimed at holding the companies responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government. EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, one of dozens of class-action suits accusing the telecoms of violating customers' rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency with this domestic surveillance.

News reports have described an elaborate lobbying campaign by the telecoms to drum up support for legislation that would hold them unaccountable for their actions, and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has publicly voiced his support for amnesty. But McConnell's office has not yet responded to EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to disclose records about this lobbying activity.

"Congress is debating amnesty for the telecoms right now -- amnesty that could imperil judicial review of a very controversial government program, as well as threaten class-action lawsuits that impact millions of Americans," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "We deserve to know what kind of lobbying has gone on behind the scenes before lawmakers make this critical decision."

EFF's suit asks for the immediate disclosure of ODNI's telecom lobbying records, including any documents concerning briefings, discussions, or other contacts officials have had with representatives of telecommunications companies or members of Congress. This lawsuit comes just two weeks after EFF filed a similar FOIA suit against the Department of Justice for withholding records on telecom lobbying.

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/ODNI_complaint.pdf

For more on our FOIA work:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

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

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

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