The white house is seeking immunity for companies that break US and international law.
In the NSA reform legislation that is being negotiated by congress, the United States is trying to insert amendments that will protect American companies from giving up customer information, even if it violates US or International privacy laws and agreements. This would allow the NSA to continue dragnet surveillance programs and directly working with companies to violate the privacy of normal citizens under no suspicion of wrongdoing.
The changes that have been tossed around have already been questionable at best. They keep the procedure largely the same, and still collect all of the data, they just pay private companies (the telecoms) to hold all of the data and then subpoena whatever data they want through the FISA rubberstamp court. There have been proposals to have a public advocate actually defend the privacy of the people at the court, unlike now where the requests are given to a secret judiciary body with no dissenting arguments presented at all. While this would be a step forward, the record of the FISA court is so terrible that there would have to be a significant change to dissuade the public view. The FISA court strikes down less than 1% of the requests that are made to it for surveillance currently.
If telecoms were not immune from lawsuits for violating the privacy or ordinary or international citizens, they would be open to be sued for overly broad and unjustified surveillance requests. This push for immunity shows that there is a strong will in the administration to continue the status quo of dragging up all of the data they possibly can. I see a lack of immunity as a strong free-market incentive for the telecoms to fight back against unreasonable surveillance requests and to incentivise them to push for reforms that would reduce their risks. Granting them full immunity is not the path a reasonable NSA.