U.S. top court won't review telecom immunity for surveillance

WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court onTuesday refused to consider a challenge to a 2008 federal lawgranting immunity to AT&T Inc and other telecommunicationscompanies for helping the government eavesdrop on customers'private phone conversations.

Section 802 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,passed in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, barred avariety of civil actions against anyone providing assistance tothe intelligence community.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the law inDecember 2011.

The Obama Administration had argued that lawsuits againstphone companies should be dismissed, to encourage cooperation inefforts to fight terrorism and help ensure that state secrets bekept under wraps.

Without comment, the high court refused to review achallenge to the law that gave the companies immunity forcooperating with the government's intelligence-gatheringactivities.

The case is Hepting et al v. AT&T Corp et al, U.S. SupremeCourt, No. 11-1200.

(Reporting by Terry Baynes and Jonathan Stempel; editing byClaudia Parsons)

((jon.stempel@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 646 223 6317)(ReutersMessaging:jon.stempel.reuters.com@thomsonreuters.net)(terry.baynes@thomsoneuters.com)(+1 646 223 8022)(Reuters Messaging:terry.baynes.reuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))