By Andrew Crocker
AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Blocked by Justice Department
The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is seeking to prevent the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, which are respectively the second and fourth largest mobile carriers in the United States. In a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department stated that the merger would “substantially lessen competition” in the wireless marketplace and lead to price increases. According to Bloomberg News, in the event the merger does not go through, Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, is contractually entitled to $7 billion in “breakup fees” and other concessions, which would provide AT&T with a significant incentive to fight the government intervention in court. The Washington Post points out that a court battle will also have high stakes for the Justice Department, which has been criticized for taking a weak approach to possible antitrust issues in recent high-profile mergers, including Comcast’s acquisition of NBC earlier this year.
EFF Challenges Dismissal of NSA Wiretapping Suits
Appearing before a panel of the Ninth Circuit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has challenged the dismissal of a number of lawsuits focusing on the National Security Agency’s alleged illegal mass wiretapping of Internet traffic through backdoor access to major telecommunications companies, Wired reports. EFF brought suit against AT&T and other telecoms, but the suits were dismissed after the NSA invoked the state secrets doctrine and Congress passed a law that allowed the President to grant the companies retroactive immunity. A parallel suit against the NSA itself was dismissed for lack of standing. According to EFF, allowing the President to grant the telecoms immunity is a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers, suggesting that the suits should be allowed to proceed on their merits.
Unredacted Wikileaks Files Available Online
A quarter-million U.S. State Department cables contained in an encrypted file belonging to the whistleblower organization Wikileaks are currently available on the web in unredacted form, according to Ars Technica. The diplomatic cables contain the names of informants and confidential sources, whom the State Department argues may be put in danger by the publication. Wired reports that Wikileaks, which has before removed potentially sensitive information from documents it leaks to the public, blames its contacts at the British newspaper the Guardian for publishing a book that contained the password to the unredacted file. However, Der Spiegel reports that the Guardian responded by blaming Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for his own allegedly lax security procedures, a charge also made by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, an ex-spokesman for Wikileaks.