2008 Year in Review: Telco immunity divided Congress

Telco immunity was perhaps the second-most divisive telecom issue of 2008, after the union disputes and other labor-related issues that lingered throughout the year. As lawsuits waited in limbo, legislators debated whether or not to attach retroactive immunity to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would let telcos off the hook for being involved in previous wiretapping ordered by the federal government. The Bush administration pushed hard for immunity, while some Democrats took a hard line against it (though not eventual President-elect Barack Obama), and details about what really happened remained elusive. Ultimately, after deadline extensions and rumors of compromise, both houses of Congress approved telco immunity.

However, the issue could be far from over. The Electronic Frontier Foundation late in the year issued a legal challenge to telco immunity and earlier this month a federal judge consider that challenge seemed open to the EFF's argument (though he didn't issue a ruling). Will there be a court ruling, or could the incoming Obama administration voice some kind of new direction or opinion on the matter?

Related articles
The EFF said the telco immunity law violates the U.S. Constitution
A federal judge question the law's carte blanche immunization powers
The U.S. Senate approved telco immunity back in July
Obama was criticized for chaning his stance on telco immunity

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