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ACLU launches legal campaign against NSA phone records gathering

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed nationally-coordinated complaints on Wednesday against telecommunications companies and the attorneys general of twenty states requesting investigations into the legality of information sharing between phone companies and the National Security Agency (NSA) [JURIST report; USA Today report]. Unlike the complaint filed by Illinois residents [JURIST report] Monday asking AT&T to stop handing over information to the NSA, the ACLU complaints demand public investigations into the NSA surveillance program [JURIST news archive] that reportedly involves accumulating the calling patterns of millions of Americans into NSA databases for further study. The ACLU also sponsored a advertisement [image] in papers across the US Wednesday asking the public to participate in the litigation by filing a complaint [form] with the Federal Communications Commission.

The ACLU has also sent a letter [text] to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling on the FCC to reverse its decision not to investigate [JURIST report] telecom information-sharing activities. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that the FCC cannot adequately investigate the claims because they do not have access to classified documents, but FCC Commissioner Michael Copps last week said that a probe was necessary [JURIST report] to determine whether a violation of Section 222 [text] or any other provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [text] occurred. During Senate confirmation hearings last week on his nomination to head the CIA, former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden refused to comment [JURIST report] on the alleged data pooling program revealed by USA Today two weeks ago. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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