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Wiretapping on Tap Next Week?

Raymond McConville
3/27/2008

4:40 PM -- The U.S. Congress has been in recess for the past two weeks, which means there have been no developments in the wiretapping legislation that has been kicked around in recent months. (See Were Telcos Justified in Warrantless Wiretaps?) If you recall, the House of Representatives passed legislation just before the recess that did not grant telcos retroactive immunity for their roles in facilitating warrantless wiretaps and said that the companies should have to defend themselves in court for their actions. (See Guilty Telcos?)

The Senate on the other hand has already proposed a bill of its own that does include an immunity provision for telcos. Congressmen have for the most part been divided on the issue according to party lines with Republicans supporting retroactive immunity and Democrats opposing it. But the pro telco bill currently proposed by the Senate was pushed through by Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat out of West Virginia. Rockefeller will likely play a key role in what the Senate does going forward. It has to act on the bill that the House has passed, which could come as early as next week when the Senate reconvenes although it is likely to not come up until later in the month.

Rockefeller is said to be holding meetings during the recess to figure out where to go from here. To say his stance on the issue is critical is an understatement. He is a key voice that could swing how the Senate votes. But of course President Bush will surely veto any bill that does not include retroactive immunity, so it could all be for nothing. Either way, set your TiVo to C-Span 2 when the Senate returns next week.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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