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Court rules for telecoms' role in domestic eavesdropping

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The case was brought on Ms. Jewel’s behalf by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, a nonprofit digital-rights advocacy and legal organization founded in 1990.

"Since the dragnet spying program first came to light, we have been fighting for the chance to have a court determine whether it is legal," EFF legal director Cindy Cohn said in a statement. "The Ninth Circuit has given us that chance, and we look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans."

Under the Bush administration’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, federal officials bypassed the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which required the executive branch to obtain a court-authorized warrant from a special high-security court before engaging in surveillance that might include individuals in the United States.

In January, US District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit seeking to hold the government accountable for secret, warrantless electronic surveillance conducted in the US for four years after the 9/11 attacks. Plaintiffs failed to offer proof that they had been targeted by the wiretap program, Judge Walker ruled. This week, the Ninth Circuit panel reversed that ruling.

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