Supreme Court Won't Hear Case On Legality Of Retroactive Immunity For Telcos

from the another-brick-in-the-wall dept

Well, this is unfortunate. Late last year, the 9th Circuit appeals court -- as part of a series of cases concerning warrantless spying on Americans -- decided that the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) passed by Congress in 2008 was not unconstitutional in granting telcos retroactive immunity for carrying out government orders to spy on Americans. This is quite troubling for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the government is more or less admitting that it teamed up with telcos to violate the law. Why else would you grant retroactive immunity to telcos if you didn't know they'd already broken the law in the past.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Supreme Court has now refused to hear the appeal on the case, effectively killing off the EFF and ACLU's legal challenge to the legality of giving telcos retroactive immunity.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 7:40am

    And you're surprised. Big brother has to protect it's minions. He might need them again in the future.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    Not that it is necessarily a legitimate legal defense has the amendment not been passed, but when I place myself in the position of a telco I have to ask if I was being requested to cooperate or if I was being politically coerced? In some ways it reminds me of the request made by the current administration that defense contractors not issue layoff notices mandated by law in anticipation of sequestration should Congress fail to act before the end of this year. "Yes, Mr. President, I am going to follow the law. Uh, what is that you have to say? If I proceed I just might find myself in a wringer because my existing contracts will be examined with a fine tooth comb, and my prospective contracts might not be so prospective at all? Well, I guess I can wait if you put it that way."

     

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  3.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 7:53am

    Re:

    Hmmm.. that. Or almost all that. In the end who would need to be scrutinized and punished for their behavior is the Government. But then again, the Government judges the Government. I can't see why it would be biased towards the Government.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    *sigh*

    Why don't we just get Judge Dredd on the scene already, since we're heading that way?

     

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  5.  
    icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re:

    We have the ability to change the government. It's not easy nor is it meant to be easy, but it is there and we can do it.

    Having the 'will' to do it is another matter unfortunately.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Once again proving that judges are no fools.

    They know where their power and pay come from...

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:13am

    "remember, remember the 5th of November..." We already got the 'vans' spying on us with the so called patriot act and NSA. The FBI is creating terrorist plots and finding people to take the bait and fall; just the thugs turned out to be cops. How long till the U.S. is like this? I say it is already like this.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:24am

    The prohibition on ex post facto law in the USA is mostly meaningless at this point...

     

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  9.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re:

    "Who watches the Watchmen, Commander Vimes?"
    "Me."
    "...And who watches you?"
    "I do. All the time."

    Sir Terry Pratchett, Thud!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Dreddsnik, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    Proud .. to be an Americaaaaan, cuz they let me think I'm freeeee ..

     

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  11.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:32am

    It would be surprising only if they DID hear the appeal.

    Hearing this case would be tantamount to the US government admitting that they were once so scared of a small bunch of hillbillies that they ran roughshod over the rights of every single american.

    I imagine the Supremes looked at each other and said "Let's not stick our dicks in this particular hornets' nest."

     

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  12.  
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    Keii (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Don't do as I do, do as I say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:37am

    seems to me that what the government wants/demands is more important than the law or challenging whether a particular law is, well, legal. by not hearing the case, the Supreme Court has, unsurprisingly, sided with the Government. guess it shows who is more important and it aint the people or their rights of privacy

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:37am

    Supreme Court of the United States

    What is going on with the US Supreme Court these days? I used to think them worthy of respect, but nowadays they seem to be little more than apologists for the banana republic the United States has become.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Edward Teach, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:52am

    Re: Supreme Court of the United States

    Aye, mate, I've wondered this me self. The SCOTUS seems to have more than a whiff of external influence around it lately. See: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/29/110829fa_fact_toobin for one possibility. Mayhaps Justice Thomas should be thankin the Obamacare Controversy for his continued seat on the court, shiver me sides. The "Citizens United" case, and last year's GPS ruling (on trespassing grounds!) also really make me wonder what influences the SCOTUS outside of the formal arguments, and their internal deliberations.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Gregg, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 8:54am

    Nothing legal should ever be retroactive unless the other parties concerned can time travel back to the incident in question.

    Nice court system, is there a court system that protects citizens rights around anywhere?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 9:02am

    As bad the ruling is, it unfortunately makes sense.

    Prosecutors grant immunity all the time to people in criminal cases, including murder cases, to get the biggest criminal off the street. Often there's no other way to get such people to testify because they refuse to take a plea deal, and even if found guilty in court they'll still refuse to talk because talking and saying "yeah I stole $10,000 from this guy I saw that other guy brutally murder" could ruin all hope of them winning an appeal.

    How can you grand immunity in such a situation that ISN'T retroactive? You don't just go up to a prosecutor and say "I'd like to rob some people, but I think my partners are going to murder my robbing victims, so if you give me immunity for robbery I'll speak against my partners in court for the crime of murder".

    Undercover police agents don't get immunity, because they record everything they do for the purpose of catching a criminal, they don't break the laws.

    That said, giving the telcos immunity doesn't farther the conviction of any law breaker, it just stifles everyone else's right to privacy.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Government

    Just as government officials can pass and enforce judgement against citizens, groups of citizens should be allowed to pass judgement against government officials.

    Essentially trial by jury against public officials. No illegal activity required, just a democratic vote of the citizens to say "I don't like what they're doing".

    My main point is there needs to be a punishment worse than "we won't vote for you again".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    It would be nice it this was just about granting immunity but it is not. The U.S. gov didn't want this anywhere near a supreme court room b/c then the telecommunication companies would have to tell the court (public) exactly what the government had them do, how often they did it, to how many people they did it to, etc. If the public knew how much crap their 'beloved' government does for them...

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 9:18am

    I'm shocked.

    Shocked, I tell you.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    it just stifles everyone else's right to privacy.


    It's WAY bigger than that. Giving the telcos immunity sets a dangerous precedent: it tells powerful corporations who are not restrained by the Constitution that they can break the law freely without regards to consequences when the government asks them to.

    This effectively lets the the government use corporations as proxies, giving it power unfettered by the Constitution. Not just about privacy issues, but about all issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re:

    As a general rule, it would be a rare company that responds to a government "request" to skirt the boundaries of law by doing so willingly and with enthusiasm. "Request" in government-speak is synonymous with "coercion" under circumstances such as this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    SCOTUS Is a Corrupted Piece of Krap that allowed the Citizens United Corporations are People but won't allow us to get Answers and to stop Warrantless Spying on US Citizens.

    Yes we are heading quickly into the waters of the real 1984.
    Wake me up when the Revolution Starts.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    I wish Joker, from the Batman fiction, was real so he could deal with the Supreme Court judges in the same way he dealt with the judges in The Dark Knight. They deserve it for all their blatantly slanted decisions against the public they are supposed to serve.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Oct 11th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    (munching on crust of bread)
    oh looky there! a circus ! ! !
    ain't that interestin'...

    oh, and
    MOTHERFUCKING EAGLES, bitchez ! ! !

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    Yes, because the last thing the Supreme Court should be doing is deciding controversial issues...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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