A federal judge will examine classified documents to determine whether a national security privilege applies in a case about claims that AT&T Inc. assisted with a domestic spying program.
U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco, in an order this week, said he would review the documents as part of a request by the Justice Department to halt the trial until the state secrets issue was addressed.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-rights group, has argued that the case could proceed based on publicly available information, including the government's admissions about its wiretapping program.
The foundation sued San Antonio-based AT&T, the largest U.S. telephone company, in January. The lawsuit accuses AT&T of violating privacy rights by giving information to the National Security Agency as part of a domestic spying program. AT&T gave the NSA access to databases that held details of millions of customers' calls and Internet communications without seeking the users' permission or a court order, the complaint said.