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Optical/IP

Guilty Telcos?

3:55 PM -- The U.S. House of Representatives has weighed in on the issue of wiretapping and whether or not the nation's phone companies are liable for facilitating them. And the House led by its Democratic majority has passed a bill that would allow telcos to be sued for their role in conducting wiretaps.

Republicans want to grant these telcos retroactive immunity for these wiretaps in order to ensure that they'll have the backing of the private sector when performing them. And the people we've spoken to say that there's really no legislation needed because the law as it is already protects them. (See Were Telcos Justified in Warrantless Wiretaps?)

Either way, this vote doesn't immediately change anything and it likely won't ever have the chance to. It still must clear the Senate, which has already proposed a bill of its own that contains an immunity provision for the telcos. But even if it miraculously did pass through the Senate, President Bush has stated he will veto it.

I'd love to know what the telcos think of this, but they are naturally tight-lipped on this issue. Even more so, I'd like to know what John McCain and Barack Obama think of this, because chances are one of them will eventually get a chance to weigh in if this doesn't get resolved soon. Something tells me there are going to be a lot of Republican votes coming out of AT&T and Verizon this November.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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