May 17, 2006 7:38 AM PDT

News sites fight to keep spying hearing open

News organizations are planning to oppose any request from AT&T on Wednesday to keep the public out of a hearing that could explore whether the company illegally cooperated with the National Security Agency.

CNET Networks (publisher of, Wired News, and the California First Amendment Coalition are sending a letter (click for PDF) to U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, saying the hearing should remain open because the "surveillance at the heart of the case presents issues of enormous public interest and importance."

On Tuesday, AT&T's attorneys asked the judge (click here for PDF) to close the hearing "during any discussion of its trade secrets or confidential information."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group in San Francisco, filed a class action lawsuit in January, claiming that AT&T illegally cooperated with the Bush administration's secret eavesdropping program. EFF has obtained documents from a former AT&T employee that it believes buttress its case--but which the telecommunications company says contain trade secrets and proprietary business information.

"Given the tremendous amount of public interest in this case, no part of the proceedings should be closed to the public," said Sharon Le Duy, CNET's general counsel. "We believe it's important to defend our First Amendment right to bear witness to these hearings."

CNET, Wired News and the California First Amendment Coalition have retained attorney Roger Myers of Holme, Roberts & Owen. A second set of media organizations, including the San Jose Mercury News, also is planning to send an attorney--Karl Olson of Levy, Ram & Olson--to the hearing, which is set be held in federal district court in San Francisco.

An attorney for AT&T asked the judge for a "brief telephone conference" on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the mechanics of closing the courtroom. The judge denied the request for a conference call, but AT&T could renew its request during Wednesday's hearing.

The Bush administration has tried to halt the lawsuit, saying that permitting the suit to proceed could jeopardize "military and state secrets." Wednesday's hearing will address AT&T's motion requesting the return of its documents and EFF's competing request to make them public.

See more CNET content tagged:
AT&T Corp., Wired News, attorney, Bush Administration, request


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The Telco's will be spending the next decade in courtrooms, don't worry they will charge us for it somehow

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Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
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Posted by Stalin Hornsby (60 comments )
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Glad to hear it
I am glad to hear for once that the media is prying it's way into something that truly serves "public interest". Bravo.
Posted by zrdunlap (5 comments )
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open is best
I'm very happy to hear that CNet and other news orgs are on the side of having an informed public on the telecom hearings. <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
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Cnet, you won
Good job.

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Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
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Tele Spy This....
Don't Let Sprint Get away with it....

They've been giving my records.... To Someone.... For Something.....For Sometime...
Posted by LeadushomeLORD (3 comments )
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This Is Ridiculous
I mean honestly, how many of us back in the 80's and early 90's took our tape recorders and recorded our favorite songs off the local radio station after we spent 10 minutes on hold to request it? I'm guilty on multiple cases, should I be paying the $150k per song? Or should they start suing every one on the planet who ever produced a tape recorder?

Furthermore, it's my understanding that people pay for XM and XM pays for the songs. Technically, customers are paying for that music. So why not allow them to keep the songs to listen to? Hell, why isn't TiVo getting sued? They serve the same purpose on the television and they have access to all sorts of channels that play nothing but music.

I think the RIAA needs to pull their heads from the rectal orifice that they're obviously lodged in and file something worth whining about.
Posted by MrServo (9 comments )
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