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AT&T Appeals To End Spy Suit

AT&T is appealing a judge's decision to move forward with a case alleging the company acted illegally by helping the National Security Agency (NSA) with surveillance.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued AT&T on behalf of customers in February, claming that the telecommunications company provided the NSA direct access to massive amounts of customer data. The lawsuit includes testimony from former AT&T employees who describe secret and secure facilities where wires sent duplicate data to federal investigators.

The federal government and AT&T maintain that they have acted legally. Both sought to dismiss the suit on grounds that court proceedings would divulge
state secrets and AT&T is protected by laws that exempt private companies from legal action resulting from cooperation with national security investigations.

A judge tossed out the requests for dismissal less than two weeks ago. Monday, AT&T filed a petition appealing that decision. The company's argument is based on the federal government's state secrets assertions. AT&T claims that since the NSAprogram is secret, plaintiffs cannot possibly establish that they have been injured by the company's actions.

"If the state secrets privilege was properly invoked by the United States, then plaintiffs cannot prove that they were injured by the government's intelligence activities or AT&T's alleged involvement in those activities, because they would be unable to obtain any information concerning the identities of government surveillance targets," the company wrote in its filing. "If the named plaintiffs cannot prove that their information has been divulged to the government, they cannot establish that they have suffered any injury whatsoever from the alleged surveillance program and their complaint must be dismissed."