AT&T SUED FOR ALLEGED HELP
TO U.S. SPYING PROGRAM
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
January 31, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Two San Jose residents and a Los
Angeles man sued AT&T Corp. in federal court in San Francisco
today, accusing the company of aiding in the U.S. government's
secret spying on Americans' telephone and Internet communications.
The National Security Agency program, carried out without court
authorization, was revealed in December. The Bush administration
has contended that the program is within its executive authority.
The lawsuit contends that the New York-based telecommunications
company's alleged help to the National Security Agency violates
the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches as well as several
federal and state laws.
The plaintiffs, Tash Hepting and Gregory Hicks of San Jose and
Erik Knutzen of Los Angeles, are represented by lawyers from the
San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The lawsuit seeks to be certified as a class action lawsuit on
behalf of all present and former customers who have used AT&T's
telephone or Internet services since September 2001.
Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kevin Bankston said,
"The NSA program is apparently the biggest fishing expedition
ever devised, scanning millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls
and e-mails for 'suspicious' patterns."
Bankston alleged, "It's the collaboration of U.S. telecom
companies like AT&T that makes it possible."
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