() As part of an expanding cybersecurity program, it has been revealed that the Department of Justice quietly gave some Internet service providers immunity from violations of wiretapping laws, allowing them to intercept communications in the name of protecting critical infrastructure.

CNET received more than 1,000 pages of internal government documents from Electronic Privacy Information Center, revealing confidential discussions called the “2511 letters.”

This is a reference to Section 2511 in the wiretapping law that makes it illegal to intercept communications without a warrant or consent from the user. An industry representative told CENT that the 2511 letters provide legal immunity from being prosecuted for violating this law.

“The documents concern a collaboration between the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and private companies to allow government monitoring of private Internet networks,” EPIC stated on its website of the documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request. “Though the program initially only applied to defense contractors, an Executive Order issued by the Obama administration earlier this year expanded it to include other ‘critical infrastructure’ industries. The documents obtained by EPIC also cited NSPD 54 as one source of authority for the program. NSPD 54 is a presidential directive issued under President Bush that EPIC is pursuing in separate FOIA litigation.”

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