Senators dance around telco immunity

The telecom industry's hottest topic of conversation continues to confound legislators crafting a new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The industry--and the nation--have been waiting for the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on whether or not to include retroactive telco immunity in the FISA for telcos' previous involvement in warrantless wiretapping. The committee finally did so late yesterday, voting by the slimmest of margins (10-9) to approve parts of the legislation--but the committee didn't specifically vote on the immunity clause.

The vote remains tangled in a web of confusion. Only minutes before this vote, it appeared the committee was ready to render an 11-8 decision in favor of including the telco immunity clause. Add to the confusion the House of Representatives yesterday approved its own surveillance bill, without telco immunity. This all means telco immunity will need to be tackled again when the full Senate addresses the legislation. And remember, President Bush has vowed to veto any legislation that doesn't include telco immunity.

For more:
- read this story in The New York Times
- CNET examines the Senate Judiciary Committee vote
- the Associated Press covers the House vote

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- Readers vote: No telco immunity Report