Archive for the ‘Lobbys’ Category

Government Must Provide More Information on Campaign to Give Telecoms Retroactive Immunity

San Francisco – A judge ordered the government Thursday to release more records about the lobbying campaign to provide immunity to the telecommunications giants that participated in the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White ordered the records be provided to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) by October 9, 2009.

The decision is part of EFF’s long-running battle to gather information about telecommunications lobbying conducted as Congress considered granting immunity to companies that participated in illegal government electronic surveillance. Telecom immunity was eventually passed as part of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008, but a bill that would repeal the immunity — called the JUSTICE Act — was introduced in the Senate last week.

“Today’s ruling is a major victory for government transparency,” said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “As the court recognized, it was unlawful for the government to deny Americans access to this information in the midst of the debate over telecom immunity last year. We’re pleased these records will now be available to the public as Congress considers the JUSTICE Act.”

EFF has been seeking information about the telecom lobbying campaign under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since 2007, as news reports detailed an extensive and expensive lobbying campaign seeking immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in unlawful surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. Officials at the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) were vocal supporters of the immunity proposals, working closely with telecoms. Using the FOIA, EFF asked the DOJ and the ODNI for any communications between the agencies, members of Congress, and telecom companies related to lobbying for telecom immunity.

The DOJ and ODNI argued that the records requested by EFF were protected by FOIA exemptions covering agency deliberations and other privileged communications. But in today’s order, the judge ruled that as the communications were with Congress and lobbyists, the exemptions did not apply. The judge also found that the identities of telecom representatives who lobbied for immunity could not be kept from the public on privacy grounds.

“Today’s ruling shows that aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act is necessary to challenge government secrecy,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “We cannot allow the government to drag its feet in making relevant information available to the American public.”

EFF also represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecom of violating their rights by illegally assisting in widespread domestic surveillance. In June of 2009, a federal judge dismissed Hepting and dozens of other lawsuits against telecoms, ruling that the companies had immunity from liability under the FAA. EFF is appealing the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, primarily arguing that the FAA’s immunity provision is unconstitutional in granting the president broad discretion to block the courts from considering the core constitutional privacy claims of millions of Americans.

For the full order:

For more on the litigation:

For more on the JUSTICE Act:

NPR: SC,NH,MT,ME Challenge Homeland Security’s ID Deadline

Real ID Opposed Causes NGA Extra Laps 03-26-08

DHS has already given states a break announcing it allow another five years to comply with Real ID under regulations issued this past January that cut the cost and gave states more flexibility.

Key lawmakers on Capitol Hill also continue to question the law, which received no hearings, was attached to an emergency funding bill and passed overwhelmingly by the then Republican-controlled Congress. Bills since introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would repeal the act, but have not advanced past committees.

Eight U.S. senators recently sent a scathing letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, asking that all states be given an exemption until the end of next year. The agency rejected the request on March 21.

Tim Sparapani, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, is not convinced that DHS really will enforce the law: There is no sign that the federal Transportation Security Administration, which handles airport security, is hiring the extra security personnel for airports that could need stepped-up security checks in May, he said.

David Quam, NGA’s chief lobbyist, said states and the federal government are at an important crossroads. “We’re at a fork in the road. If we go one direction, the states and federal government can work together to get this done, and if we go the other direction, it will be much more difficult.” ::FULL STORY HERE::

BeatTheChip Targets Suggested Real ID Lobbys or Be “BIOMETRIFIED”

Persons with aggrivated concerns over Real ID should start badgering Washington lobbyists. Here are a suggested list of offending companies who should get a knock at the door, phone calls and letters regarding this. Lobbyist contact information can be obtained by signing up at for a FREE 5 day trial of their database product.

Real ID lobbyists may fall under the following search: Legislative Issues
Computer Industry
Government Issues
Homeland Security

Here are most of the companies & non-profits who insist that you need biometric face scanns and microchips in your nationalized licenses:
1) Digimarc : $350,000 in Real- ID lobbys; Janice Kephart, 911 Securities Solutions
2) The National Governor’s Association : David Quam has been paid to push.
3) AAMVA: pushed Drivers License Compact & New! World Class Drivers License Agreement
4) Coalition for Secure Driver’s License, Janice Kephart, 9-11 Securities Solutions
5) Infotech Strategies, Inc. : John K Raffetto
6) Security Exchange Commission : a.k.a. The Military Industrial Complex