Friday, October 12, 2007

Jane: Telco's Acted in Good Faith. Not Quite

On the issue of retroactive immunity for telcos that illegally turned over customer information to the government after receiving warrant-free requests: In her Politico article, Jane Harman wrote that the telco's were acting in good faith.
Though the new FISA law grants prospective immunity for telecommunications firms asked to supply phone records as part of the government’s surveillance program, it omits any grant of retroactive immunity to those companies that arguably complied in good faith with government requests.

A narrowly drawn retroactive immunity provision, coupled with the prospective stipulation that immunity requires a warrant from a judge, is a possible compromise.
That was a meme that could potentially hold water if it weren't for the fact that Qwest absolutely refused to comply with the illegal orders. If it was obvious to Qwest that what was being done was illegal and they were steadfast in refusing to comply, it's pretty much impossible the other telcos didn't realize they were breaking the law. If they all went along, Jane might be able to get away with this bogus rationale. But Qwest's actions put the lie to that argument.


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