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DOJ to seek dismissal of multiple NSA phone records suits on secrecy grounds

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] has said it will seek to dismiss 20 lawsuits accusing telecommunications companies Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth [corporate websites] of illegally providing customer phone records to the National Security Agency [official website] in conjunction with the NSA's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. In a filing made in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website], where a case [JURIST report] brought by the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] against AT&T on behalf of Illinois residents is pending, the government nonetheless stated that it will wait until all 20 cases filed by the ACLU in various state jurisdictions have been consolidated into one case before formally moving to dismiss on the grounds that continuing the lawsuits may reveal "military and state secrets." The government made the filing in support of AT&T's request to stay the lawsuit pending consolidation of all 20 lawsuits.

In May the ACLU filed nationally coordinated complaints [JURIST report] against the three major phone companies and the attorneys general of 20 states, requesting investigations into the legality of information allegedly provided to the NSA by the phone companies. Several other class action lawsuits have also been filed against the phone companies, unrelated to the ACLU campaign. Advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation [advocacy website] filed a class action against AT&T in California, and the Department of Justice has argued [JURIST report] that the case should be dismissed on the same grounds - that the lawsuit may reveal military and state secrets. Both Verizon and BellSouth have denied all allegations [JURIST report] that they illegally provided customer information to the NSA, while AT&T has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations [JURIST report]. Bloomberg has more.

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