by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 28th 2008 3:14am
The Patriot Act allows the FBI to issue "National Security Letters" to ISPs and other organizations, seeking information on users of those service providers -- with an automatic gag order forbidding the service provider from telling anyone that they have received an NSL. Not surprisingly, this resulted in the NSLs being widely abused, with the FBI issuing them in many, many cases when they were not appropriate. But, of course, since no one could complain, there was no incentive for the FBI to actually follow the rules. A panel of judges is now reviewing the overall constitutionality of the gag order on NSLs -- and, so far, they seem skeptical. It seems ridiculous that the FBI should be allowed to impart an automatic gag order without any sort of judicial overview -- especially when it's already been shown that the FBI can and does abuse this power quite often.
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