January 29, 2007

CONTACT: media@aclu.org

AUGUSTA, ME - The Maine Civil Liberties Union applauded the Maine Public Utilities Commission's decision today to initiate contempt proceedings against Verizon Maine for failure to comply with an August 9 order by the Commission.  The order required a Verizon official to swear under oath to the truth of previous statements issued by Verizon regarding the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance and data collection program.

"The Commission's decision today was an important first step in getting to the bottom of whether Verizon and the federal government violated Mainers' privacy," said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

The complaint, filed in May by 22 Verizon customers, urged the Commission to protect the privacy of Mainers by investigating whether Verizon allowed the NSA access to the phone records of its customers without their knowledge or legal consent.  In August the Commission asked Verizon to confirm under oath statements made in earlier press releases claiming that Verizon did not give customer records to the NSA are true and not misleading.

In response to the order, the United States Department of Justice sued the Maine PUC and Verizon Maine to stop Verizon from complying with the order and to keep the PUC from opening any future investigations into the matter.  The MCLU entered the proceedings as an intervenor on behalf of the original complainants.

More information is available at: www.aclu.org/nsaspying

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