Evidence in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) class-action lawsuit against AT&T will be allowed, according to a federal judge's ruling last week in San Francisco.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the evidence, including three documents that AT&T alleges contain trade secrets, will remain sealed.
AT&T, along with the U.S. government had sought to have evidence excluded and the case dismissed. Judge Walker denied the request to exclude evidence. A hearing to review both AT&T's and the government's motions to dismiss the lawsuit is scheduled June 23 in San Francisco.
The EFF lawsuit accuses AT&T of illegally providing customers' telephone and Internet records to the National Security Agency (NSA). Evidence at issue in the court ruling supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation's motion for a preliminary injunction against AT&T. The San Francisco-based EFF wants to stop AT&T's "ongoing violations of the law and the privacy of its customers."
Although court documents AT&T alleges are proprietary will temporarily remain under seal, Judge Walker urged the telecoms company to work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to "narrowly react any confidential material" so documents can be made public "as soon as possible."
"We're very pleased that the court refused AT&T's unreasonable demand that this critical evidence be returned to AT&T and struck from the record," Kevin Bankston, EFF staff attorney told reporters. "Although the evidence itself will stay under seal, the court has asked AT&T to work with us in providing public versions of our legal papers," Bankston said. "Taken together with the court's refusal to close the courtroom as AT&T had requested, we think today was a real victory for the public's right to know and for our ability to litigate this case."
Meanwhile, EFF has launched a media campaign seeking funds to battle the telecommunications giant. The advertising includes a play on words of AT&T's own advertising slogan (see above).