AUGUSTA (AP) – Now that Congress has given immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government spy on Americans in suspected terrorism cases, a Maine legislator is asking Verizon anew if it turned over any customer records to the federal government.

As it has in the past when faced with such queries, Verizon Communications Inc. says it is not commenting on matters involving national security.

State Rep. Herbert Adams posed the question about phone records on July 18, eight days after President Bush signed into law a bill that overhauled government eavesdropping rules and granted immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government monitor Americans in suspected terrorism cases.

The law in effect nullified a lawsuit by Maine which sought to know what kind of phone customer information was turned over to the National Security Agency as part of its anti-terror efforts. That and several other similar cases brought by consumers, privacy advocates and others had been consolidated before Congress granted immunity.

Adams, a member of the Legislature’s Utilities and Energy Committee, posed similar questions about phone records to an executive for FairPoint Communications earlier this year. FairPoint is taking over Verizon’s landline phone and Internet service in northern New England. While FairPoint said it had not turned over records, it said it could not speak for Verizon.

Adams posed the question anew on July 18, saying that Verizon could answer “under protection of Federal law (and) without fear of lawsuits.”

“At any time prior to the 2008 sale of FairPoint Communications, did Verizon ever surrender, voluntarily or under subpoena, any individual or aggregate customer information to any agency of the U.S. government?” says his letter.

A copy was furnished to company spokesman John Bonomo, who said there would be no response.

“We do not comment on matters involving national security,” Bonomo said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Adams, D-Portland, had anticipated his query would not be answered.

“Possibly tens of thousands of Mainers have had their private phone records leaked to the federal government without their knowledge or say so, and now none of them may ever know,” he said.


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