Saturday, March 8, 2008

Warrants Obviate Immunity

Following 9/11, U.S. telecommunications companies allowed the NSA access to the phone records of their customers. They did so without a warrant and at the urging of senior government officials to help protect the nation from another terrorist attack.

My layman's knowledge of the admittedly complex issues involved notwithstanding, it seems to me that the companies acted in good faith but in violation of their fiduciary duties to their shareholders.

As such, the question of whether they should receive immunity for their actions is easy to answer: No, they shouldn't. Instead, they should have required a warrant before forking over vaults of data. Not only would such prudence have preempted the current controversy, but warrants exist precisely for situations like this—to codify facets of the law that are unclear.