On January 29, 2008, the US House of Representatives voted to extend the Protect America Act of 2007 for an additional two weeks past its original February 1, 2008 expiration date. The extension was a compromise to give the US Senate time to craft a provision granting civil immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperate with government surveillance efforts through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The immunity grant was in response to more than 40 lawsuits filed against domestic telecommunications companies that participated in the NSA warrantless surveillance program. Although the Senate ultimately approved retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies in July 2008, both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed lawsuits challenging the law.
Learn more about the NSA and laws governing telecommunications and warrantless wiretaps from the JURIST news archive and read commentary on the congressional fight over FISA from JURIST Guest Columnist Christina Wells in Forum.