Just Prior To Hearing Over NSL Gag Orders, Court Allows Cloudflare & CREDO Mobile To Be Named As Plaintiffs

from the about-time dept

In December, we wrote about how (thanks to EFF's lawyering) mobile phone provider CREDO Mobile was finally (after many years) allowed to reveal the National Security Letter (NSL) it had received from the DOJ back in 2013. As per usual, the NSL had a complete gag order, barring the company from admitting it had received such a letter. Then, just about a month later, Cloudflare was similarly ungagged over an NSL it had received in 2013 as well.

On Wednesday, EFF will be back in the 9th Circuit appeals court arguing that these NSLs are First Amendment violations, but for the first time, it can actually name those two companies as its clients. Even though those NSLs were finally allowed to become public in the last few months, the case itself still did not include their names, until Monday, when the court was told by the DOJ, that since the FBI had concluded the various investigations, and because it had enabled each of the companies to reveal those specific NSLs they had received, that it no longer required the plaintiffs' names in the case to be sealed. Of course, we don't know how many other NSLs are still gagged (possibly even with these two companies). Indeed, the EFF's announcement certainly hints at more:

On Wednesday, EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker will tell the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that these gags are unconstitutional restrictions on CREDO and Cloudflare’s free speech and that the FBI’s belated decision to lift some of the gags only underscores why judicial oversight is needed in every case. The gag orders barred these companies from participating in discussion and debate about government use of NSLs—even as Congress was debating changes to the NSL statute in 2015.

Hopefully, the appeals court recognizes the serious First Amendment issues at play here.


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  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 21 Mar 2017 @ 3:02pm

    hmm

    Isn't this a form of prior restraint?

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

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 3:42pm

      Re: hmm

      Maybe, but they can't talk about it.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 5:28pm

      Re: hmm

      No problem, the government uttered the magic words, 'National Security', upon which all laws become optional, and 'rights' are granted only by the benevolence of those that know better.

      What's a little enforced silence when it comes to magic words like that? You don't want the commies to win now do you?

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

  • icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 3:23pm

    "CREDO Mobile could not be reached for comment. Not that they didn't have one, but because the signal kept dropping out."

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

  • identicon
    Just Dillon, 21 Mar 2017 @ 8:34pm

    But if "they" say I disclosed ..

    ... receiving a NSL doesn't that mean they admit serving me with one? Which makes the non-disclosure requirerment moot.

    Maybe I'm a naive virgin ...

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Mar 2017 @ 11:39pm

      Re: But if "they" say I disclosed ..

      If by 'they' you mean whatever agency slaps 'you' with an NSL, then yes, going after someone for violating a gag order does make it clear that there is an NSL, but you can be sure that said agency would throw an entire library's worth of books at you in order to make an example of what happens to anyone that dares stand up to them.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 22 Mar 2017 @ 4:18am

    Imagine the fillings:

    "Defendant-who-shall-not-be-named A and Defendant-who-shall-not-be-named B hereby ask the court..."

    He-who-must-not-be-named from a determined wizardry-series-that-shall-not-be-named would be proud.

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


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