US officials can now tap phones officially
US intelligence services now have the power to tap telephone calls and emails from outside the country after the passing of a bill in the US Senate.
Intelligence agents will be able to tap phones and Internet services without permission from a judge and telecoms companies will also be protected from claims for damages from their bugged clients.
In the wake of the 11 September attacks in 2001, President George Bush authorised the National Security Agency to tap emails and telephone calls made by any US citizen.
Since 2001, the measure has been repeatedly extended without any government control or special legal restrictions.
The official approval electronic spying is being hailed as a victory by the Bush government, although civil liberties councils have strong reservations