US-based civil society organisation Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took US telecom AT&T to court for willingly sharing material with the NSA to help its surveillance regime. The case forced the Bush administration to pass a law to give retroactive protection to the telecom companies for cooperating with the NSA.
EFF’s Senior Attorney Kurt Opsahl tells Saikat Datta on mail that their efforts to push back on surveillance will continue:
1. What is EFF's view of corporations like AT&T and its special relationship with the NSA?
It is disappointing that AT&T collaborated with the NSA for years to expose its customers' data to government surveillance without proper legal process. We sued AT&T over this illegal practice, and were making progress until Congress stepped in and provided retroactive immunity. But the retroactively immunity did not make the cooperation any less wrong.
2. What is EFF's experience with litigation against surveillance now that the case based on the documents from Mark Klein is over?
While retroactive immunity ended the case against AT&T (Hepting v. AT&T), we have continued to sue the NSA for the illegal spying program (Jewel v. NSA). We filed suit with the same plaintiffs in 2008, and the Jewel case continues today, despite the U.S. government's attempt to avoid the legal questions. The revelations in newspaper over the last nine months have bolstered the case, and we will continue to fight hard for user privacy and security.
3. How does EFF plan to tackle surveillance and the role that corporations like AT&T play now that the Administration has given them retroactive statutory protection?
As noted, the case against the NSA itself continues. We have also filed a new case against the government (First Unitarian Church v. NSA), with a new set of plaintiffs, specifically over the call detail record program, with a wide variety of carriers at issue.