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Phone Companies Fight Back Against NSA Accusations

A judge ruled Wednesday that internal AT&T documents can be used in a case accusing AT&T of helping the National Security Agency spy on Americans, but the documents will remain sealed.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing AT&T in a class action lawsuit. EFF claims that the phone company illegally provided Internet and phone records to the NSA.
The lawsuit is one of several legal actions alleging that major telecommunications companies violated privacy laws to help with illegal surveillance.

The NSA and President George W. Bush claim the surveillance is legal, while BellSouth and Verizon deny involvement. The U.S. Department of Justice has intervened, calling for the dismissal of EFF's case against Verizon because of security reasons.

AT&T argued that internal documents – including a declaration from a former AT&T employee who claims he split cables so duplicate telecommunications data could be fed to the NSA – should not be used in the case. The company also argued that Wednesday's hearing should be closed to the public.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker denied the request for a closed hearing and decided that the documents can be used in the case. He also instructed the telephone company to work with EFF on redacting portions of the sealed documents so the remainder can be publicly disclosed.

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