|EFF’s NSL legal team.
From left: Mark Rumold, Kurt Opsahl,
Cindy Cohn, Matt Zimmerman
and Nate Cardozo.
A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that National Security Letter (NSL) provisions in federal law violate the Constitution. The decision came in a lawsuit challenging a NSL on behalf of an unnamed telecommunications company represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
In the ruling publicly released today, Judge Susan Illston ordered that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stop issuing NSLs and cease enforcing the gag provision in this or any other case. The landmark ruling is stayed for 90 days to allow the government to appeal.
“We are very pleased that the court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”
The controversial provisions also permit the FBI to permanently gag service providers from revealing anything about the NSLs, including the fact that a demand was made, which prevents providers from notifying either their customers or the public. The limited judicial review provisions essentially write the courts out of the process.
- National Security Letters Are Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules (eff.org)
- National Security Letters Are Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules (activistpost.com)
- Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them (wired.com)
- FBI’s demands for private data struck down by federal court (guardian.co.uk)
- FBI Can’t Demand Customer Records From Telcos, Judge Says (bloomberg.com)
- National Security Letters With Gag Orders Declared Unconstitutional by Court (reason.com)
- Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them (leaksource.wordpress.com)
- FBI phone and email snooping tactic ruled unconstitutional (rawstory.com)
- National security letters deemed unconstitutional (rt.com)
- FBI’s demands for private data struck down by federal court (oddonion.com)