Victory! EFF Wins National Security Letter Transparency Lawsuit | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Victory! EFF Wins National Security Letter Transparency Lawsuit

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

A federal district court in San Francisco has ruled strongly in favor of our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records of how and when the FBI lifts gag orders issued with National Security Letters (NSLs). These records will provide a window into the FBI’s use of a highly secretive investigative tool that has been historically misused. They will also provide insight into the effectiveness of the USA Freedom Act, the national security reform law passed by Congress in 2015.

NSLs are a form of administrative subpoena that allows the government to obtain basic information about customers of communications providers, banks and credit agencies, and a range of other companies. The defining feature of NSLs, however, is that the FBI can issue a blanket gag order with its information request, preventing recipients from saying anything about them, including the very fact that they have received an NSL.

The FBI has issued over 500,000 NSLs since 2001, the vast majority of which contained such indefinite gag orders. As a result, the public has had little insight into the scope of the government’s use of NSLs, aside from internal reports that paint a picture of overreach and misuse. EFF and others have long argued that NSL gag orders violate the First Amendment, and we succeeded in having the statute ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Congrats, EFF, well-done!!

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