Telecom Lobbying Records Opened

Charles Davis
November 28, 2007 — 1,148 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

An electronic privacy group challenging President Bush's domestic spying program scored a minor victory when a judge ordered the federal government to release information about lobbying efforts by telecommunications companies to protect them from prosecution.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation in January 2006 filed a class-action suit against AT&T Inc., accusing the company of illegally making communications on its networks available to the National Security Agency without warrants.

Congress is now considering changing the law to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that would protect them from such court challenges.

"Any attempt for immunity is aimed at getting these very important cases swept back under the rug," EFF spokeswoman Rebecca Jeschke said Wednesday.

The EFF wants to know about "discussions, briefings or other exchanges" telecommunications companies have had recently with the Officer of the Director of National Intelligence, according to the court order, issued Tuesday.

"We're excited to see what's in them," Jeschke said of the Freedom of Information Act release. "It shows how relevant the FOIA is and how important it is for the government to respond quickly particularly during a time when the country is debating an important issue. This judge recognized that it's important for people to know everything they can."

The court set a Dec. 10 deadline for release of the documents.

Charles Davis


Charles N. Davis is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and the executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, headquartered at the School. Davis' scholarly research focuses on access to governmental information and new media law, including jurisdictional issues, intellectual property and online libel. He has earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work in furthering freedom of information and the University of Missouri-Columbia Provost's Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching, as well as the Faculty-Alumni Award.