Thursday, November 08, 2007

Telecommunication immunity

I have to say that I can't find anything other than a completely cynical explanation for why congress would even consider granting immunity to the telephone companies who cooperated with the NSA on warrantless wiretaps (for which they are getting sued).

To me, it is really quite simple. What the cooperating companies did was either illegal or it wasn't. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know for sure which side of the line what they did fell on. But it doesn't matter. If it wasn't illegal, then they don't need immunity. If it was illegal, then they shouldn't be granted immunity.

I suppose there's also a middle ground, whereby what they did wasn't illegal but was a violation of their policies with their customers (i.e., not a criminal offense but a potential civil liability). Even here, if they promise something and then break that promise - even if its for good reasons - they should not have immunity; those reasons - if in fact "good" - can and should mitigate any penalties, but they shouldn't prevent any attempt to claim damage.

I'm unfortunately left to conclude that there are only cynical explanations for the attempt to grant immunity here. For shame.

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