Anonymous ISP Owner Speaks Out, As Feds Appeal Ruling Against Patriot Act

from the freedom-of-speech,-eh? dept

It will probably come as little surprise, but the Justice Depatment has now made it official that it plans to appeal the ruling that found that the parts of the Patriot Act that expanded the power of so-called "National Security Letters" was unconstitutional. The issue here is that the Justice Department has been using these letters to get private info from telcos, ISPs and others without any oversight. Beyond not even needing to get a judge's approval, the FBI has apparently been so disorganized that it tracks the use of these NSLs on index cards and has had trouble keeping track of how often they're used. Not surprisingly, a court found this all problematic, but the Justice Department continues to insist that it's just fine and dandy. In response, the anonymous small ISP owner who filed the original lawsuit has spoken out against the policy, noting that the gag order imposed on recipients of national security letters makes it "impossible... to discuss their specific concerns with the public, the press and Congress." He also stated: "This seems to be counterintuitive to everything I assumed about this country's commitment to free speech and the value of political discourse." Indeed. It's yet to be explained why there isn't any oversight here at all. Given the opportunity for abuse when there's no oversight, can someone give a good reason why these things should be allowed? They can be just as effective with a judge approving them. However, with no oversight and the corresponding gag order, it seems like an open playing field for abuse of the system. Given that the FBI can't even track how they're using these tools, it seems even more dangerous.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    pokerface, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 11:40am

    Usual Rant ver. 1

    Let us get over with the mandatory comment (or open the necessary can of worms, depending on your viewpoint):

    "You have nothing to fear, if you have done nothing wrong."


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    claire rand, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 11:56am


    "You have nothing to fear, if you have done nothing wrong."

    but therein lies the problem, who defines "wrong"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Freedom, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Taking the bait...

    What has happened to America?

    Power is power and when possible those that have it WILL abuse it to protect their own interests at some point.

    This nation was built on checks and balances and this nonsense has to stop. It's nice to see that the little guy is fighting back. Interestingly, the big guys seem to be rolling over despite they are the ones that have the greater resources to push back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    JustMe, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 12:37pm

    The communists said years ago that the US can not be beat from the outside but the inside. We are being beaten from the inside and a lot of it is by ourselves.

    Pray that enough people in the US figure this out and fight back before it is too late.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    TheDock22, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Bad government

    I thought things like this were protecting in the constitution, no unlawful searches and seizures. To make it lawful you need a judge's approval. Unfortunately the only way to fight our government and their increasing corruptness is to quit hiring corrupt officials. If only more young people would educate themselves more on politics and actually vote.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Instructor (profile), Nov 6th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    The US Constitution

    The Constitution of the United States is not a perfect document, but it sure beats what we are living under right now.
    Concealed Handgun == Your Civil Right

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Peet McKimmie (profile), Nov 6th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

    Guess why filing cards...

    They store the info on filing cards because the Freedom of Information Act makes it much easier to request computer records rather than physical paperwork. (And filing cards are easier to misplace/shred without leaving any evidence...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 1:21pm

    its ok...

    Don't worry everyone, we just have to scrap the constitution in order to protect it. Everyone go back to worrying about keeping their jobs so you can pay your mortgage/credit card/student loans, nothing to see here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. It's Up to Our Kids

    The old standard of how Washington works must die. I too agree that the kids of today could make true change if they want to.

    Index cards? WTF. No oversight? WTF. Automatic abuse when you know that nobody is watching over your shoulder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Taking the bait...

    this has nothing to do with protecting interests; that would be a defensive position. this is very aggressive - infact usualy when this government talks defensive language it means aggression.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Overcast, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 1:45pm

    No Surprise really..

    Funny thing is - they can get what they want from ISP's - and the ISP isn't allowed to talk about it. Ok, I see not talking about specifics - but what about in general?

    Seems real shady to me.

    I don't understand the warrant-less searches unless they are just a means of taking more rights from the citizens. After all - what judge wouldn't ok a warrant for a suspected terrorist?

    "You have nothing to fear, if you have done nothing wrong."

    And that's the biggest BS excuse for being lazy and not worrying about constitutional rights. After all: IT IS THE LAW THAT THEY HAVE TO HAVE A WARRANT.

    Doing nothing, doing something, something to worry about, nothing to worry about - IT IS THE LAW that they have to obtain a warrant *if* they have probable cause.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    What part of that don't some people understand? Or are the new laws more important than the laws used in the founding of this nation, but OBVIOUSLY they are meaningless to some people.

    To that: in FACT the Government IS breaking the law - and they still don't have anything to worry about. They go on preaching to me about 'doing nothing wrong' while they stomp and piss all over the constitution.

    But I guess - I'm the horrible person - the 'nonconforming' person who thinks the constitution actually means something.

    Sorry I was so very wrong! The Patriot Act has proven to protect us!! Unlike that ratty ol' Constitution - what good has that ever done anyone?

    "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    But that's ok - I guess we'll all get what's coming to us eventually. Sadly, it seems most people agree with this viewpoint....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Brother Jonathan, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    coup d'état

    coup d'é·tat (kū' dā-tä') n., pl. coups d'état (kū') or coup d'états (dā-täz'). The sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority. ANY QUESTIONS?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    kelleyearl, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 2:18pm


    The only thing that will stop this from continuing is: VOTE them out of office and make one constitutional addmenment vote for your chosen vice president not one chosen by the proesident and then make sure that the congress understands that you will not support there doing wrong to the people. m People on sites like this need to quit making like of it and start doing something useful. Anonymous Coward are you listening?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Jomama Man, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 2:24pm

    Nothing to fear

    "You have nothing to fear, if you have done nothing wrong."
    See Daniel Solvoe's excellent analysis of this bogus statement and its ilk at

    Essentially this statement makes the erroneous assumption that privacy is only for hiding wrongdoing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Lucretious, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 2:57pm

    It's Unfortunate

    The thing is I think most rational people can understand WHY it was implemented and how there could be some very good reasons to use it but like many aspects of this administration, they've co-opted what is a very special circumstance emergency law into a shield to protect them from unconstitutional behavior. It shouldn't even have to be addressed. It is/was an important tool that will now have to be dropped (IMO) in order to protect constitutional abuses from a group of old psychopaths.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    A. L. Flanagan, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 3:00pm

    Gag Order

    To me it seems that the gag order is even more dangerous than the letters themselves. The right of the accused to a public defense is the greatest preventer of prosecutorial abuses. If the next administration doesn't undo these concerted attacks on the Constitution, Vietnam will look like a minor civil disagreement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    T.J., Nov 6th, 2007 @ 3:05pm

    Power corrupts.

    Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    pRtkL xLr8r, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 3:24pm

    It seems the Constitution...

    ...was also written on those index cards, and with the same reckless abandon, was lost in the shuffle as well.

    But in the end, there will always be a resistance. You will never be able to track communication that is to be kept secret, as it flows from one's mouth to another's ear, from one underground movement to the next.

    When things go out of hand, and people have had enough, that is when a community of the same mindset truly comes together, speaks out, and acts accordingly.

    It was only a few hundred years ago when we did the same - against England.

    Let us hope that our government has enough foresight to know this is truly a possibility; it is our one true check in a system of many unbalances.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Huh?, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Usual Rant ver. 1

    Did i miss something, Big Bro is watching your every move. No, dont do that, its an invastion of privacy, thank god no one is going to care for Global Warming so it can do its job and we can start again. We have become such a crappy race. Everyone has done something wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anthony, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 3:30pm


    I support you all the way. And im woried for my generation. Im 15 now. Please pray that the WORLD will figure this out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anthony, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    Re: It's Up to Our Kids

    Thank you (post #7 above)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Bad government

    What does voting have to do with it? we're always stuck with choosing a turd sandwich or crap flinging monkey, so either choice just leaves you covered in Shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 4:27pm

    well hell, i need a job with the FBI, all types of info there...not even trackable, perfect

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Me Personally, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 4:39pm

    I really think

    We should just burn it down and rebuild it from the ground up. And hopefully we will keep these dumbasses our of our elected positions. Kind of like how the whole country was thinking that we got scammed on the 2000 elections but no one had the balls to actually do anything about it.. And now look at us and what we have become... Time to buy a boat is what I'm seeing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Bad government

    "quit hiring corrupt officials"

    It's the politicians, not the bureaucrats (officials).

    If they are in office - vote them out - every time. ONCE AND DONE!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 5:04pm

    Blame the present administration all you want to. I certainly do.

    BUT they got elected twice. (please don't go off on that!)

    You wouldn't believe the immense percentage of our population that still believes in them, and who go red in the face at the mere hint of disagreement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Tagbert, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 7:12am

    Interesting that this article runs just after another article "Congress Not At All Pleased With Yahoo's Explanation In Chinese Dissident Case" where congress is criticizing an ISP for handing over user information to an authoritarian government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    burt, Jun 1st, 2008 @ 8:51am

    while you were sleeping

    There are many laws on the books that go way back that most everyone dosent know about that are unconstituitional and undermine your freedoms, they were cunningly crafted and quietly slipped into the books , the patriot act is just the latest, Even the name Patriot act reeks of deception.... These Laws are quietly pressured into the system then one day they are established and before you know it, whala!! you are living in a police state..Tyrant have no new schemes, freedom demands eternal vidulence.. The patriot act need to be dragged out into the sunshine and a stake driven thru it. Speak up now or forever hold your peace.. (literally)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 7:19am

    Re: Nothing to fear

    Thanks for the link Mate

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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