MCLU Opposes Government's Motion to Dismiss Telecom Cases

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
September 22, 2008 12:00 am

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PORTLAND – The Maine Civil Liberties Union filed a motion today to preserve its right to participate in proceedings in California where the fate of several cases involving the telephone companies and National Security Agency surveillance will soon be decided. These cases include a Maine case that arose from a 2006 complaint filed with the state Public Utilities Commission by Mainers seeking information on Verizon’s complicity in the NSA spying program.

“Americans’ fundamental right to privacy is at stake in these cases,” said Zachary Heiden, Legal Director of the MCLU. “Maine has a strong interest in protecting phone customer privacy, and companies that do business in Maine have to play by the rules.”

Last week the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss many of the cases consolidated under In re National Security Agency Telecommunications Records Litigation. The court has set a hearing date of Dec. 2 to determine whether any of the cases may move forward.

“It is cause for alarm that the federal government wants to step in and subvert the proper court process for responding to the complaints raised by Maine citizens, and others across the country, about the phone companies turning over customers’ private information,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the MCLU.

Legislation passed by the Democratic Congress and enacted into law in July appears to rule out any continuation of the telecom cases, but the final decision lies with the courts. Litigation is likely to continue into 2009 and a new Administration.

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