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US appeals court considers wiretapping lawsuits

A federal appeals court panel in Seattle will consider Wednesday whether to revive two cases claiming the government has monitored the communications of millions of Americans since 9/11.

One involves customers who sued telecommunications companies, alleging that they illegally turned over emails and phone calls to the National Security Agency without warrants. The other involves lawsuits that some of those same plaintiffs brought against the government, saying the surveillance violated their constitutional rights.

A San Francisco judge dismissed the lawsuits, saying such claims against telecom companies can be barred under a law changed by Congress in 2008, and that the people who sued the government directly did not suffer specific harms that give them legal standing to sue.

The government has refused to confirm whether the domestic surveillance program exists.

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