/ June 27, 2008

Telecom Immunity Strikes a Chord with Congress?

Congress passed what can now be considered a bipartisan bill to expand the rights of telecommunication groups aiding the government with surveillance efforts. Since the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the executive and legislative branches have been working towards an agreement to develop appropriate measures for discovering and preventing possible terrorist attacks. The bill will essentially provide immunity to the aforementioned telecom companies who obtain approval for the interception of calls and emails and display necessary documentation of the approval if solicited afterwards. With a number of compromises coming from both parties, this bill has become some what of a bipartisan effort. Initial hesitation coming from the democrats to accept surveillance and from the republicans to restrict it, has now subsided in light of further developments. Instead of immediate immunity, any companies involved in wiretapping or other surveillance procedure, can and will be brought before the judicial system for questioning. Legality of the actions in question will be determined based on authorization from the administration, a step that is being noted as a “formality” by some representatives from the GOP. The parties have come to an agreement, for the most part, that granting surveillance powers to telecom companies will lead to better security in the long run. The bill now waits for approval from the Senate, a signature from the White House and a great deal of protest from civil rights groups around the country.

Source: NYTimes.com

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