RealTime IT News

Appeals Court Will Hear EFF/AT&T Spying Case

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the next stop on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) case against AT&T over alleged collaboration with the National Security Agency's (NSA's) domestic surveillance program.

The court decided on Tuesday decided it would hear an appeal of a district court's decision allowing the EFF's case to go forward against the government and AT&T. The ruling is only an agreement to hear the case, not on the merits of the appeal.

The EFF first sued AT&T  in January, claiming the company, then called SBC before it acquired AT&T and took the name, violated the law in providing customer information to the government.

The government claimed that "state secret privilege" prevented the federal judiciary from determining whether the spying program is legal or not. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker disagreed and ruled that the case could go forward.

Judge Walker has set a case management conference for November 17th to consider how EFF's lawsuit and other suits against telecommunications companies can go forward. The hearing will start at 10:30am at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The case involves allegations that AT&T, then SBC, provided caller information to the NSA as part of its domestic surveillance program monitoring that monitored international phone calls to suspected terrorists in foreign countries.

Thus far there has been no discovery or revelations, as all the court cases have involved arguments back and forth on the legitimacy of the EFF's claims and AT&T's counterclaims.