The Associated Press reports from Seattle on the hearing of the two cases involving the government granting immunity to telecommunications companies that collaborated in unwarranted wiretapping and data collection. The ACLU of Illinois filed the lawsuits on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs, including late renowned Chicago journalist Studs Terkel. ACLU of Illinois legal director Harvey Grossman gave an argument in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge this collaboration between the federal government and major telecom companies such as AT&T. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been at the forefront along with the ACLU in arguing against this unlawful government spying.
The EFF and ACLU also argued that Congress violated the separation of powers by allowing the attorney general to choose when to grant immunity to telecom companies. Certain federal statutes, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, allow for customers to sue if companies violate those laws. By giving the DOJ the power to grant immunity, Congress is allowing the department to choose which laws apply - essentially letting DOJ make law rather than just enforce it, they said.