Court OKs Immunity For Telecoms In Wiretap Case

Published December 29, 2011 10:18PM (EST)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court says a law granting telecommunications companies legal immunity for helping the National Security Agency with an email and telephone eavesdropping program is constitutional.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion Thursday, affirming a lower court ruling that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, passes constitutional muster.

The appeal consolidated 33 cases filed against various telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Communications Inc. filed on behalf of these companies' consumers.

The ruling continues a legal case stemming from new surveillance rules passed by Congress in 2009 that included protection from legal liability for telecommunications companies that allegedly helped the U.S. spy on Americans without warrants.

By Salon Staff

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