U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) says telephone companies should not be protected if they helped carry out illegal wiretaps.
The provision is part of federal legislation expanding the president's wiretap authority. Feingold says it would grant immunity to telecoms that may have helped with illegal electronic surveillance ordered by the President.
Feingold is supporting an amendment that would remove the immunity provision. The Wisconsin Democrat says the current version of FISA already protects companies by requiring the government to have a court order to obtain a wiretap. He says the change would protect them from any potential lawsuits, if it was found they allowed a wiretap without proper authorization.
Feingold says granting immunity could also undermine any future efforts to prevent illegal wiretaps. He says it sends a terrible message to give them a "get out of jail free card" for ignoring the law.
A vote on the amendment and the bill are expected in the U.S. Senate later today.