National Security Letters

Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
63,414
2,115
Punta Gorda FL
National Security Letters

Just the name should set off alarm bells, but if it doesn't, the bolded sentence below should.

...

A national security letter is a search warrant in which one federal agent authorizes another federal agent to search for and retrieve data held by third parties. The list of third parties that can be subjected to an agent-written search warrant includes virtually all entities required by law to keep records, such as telephone providers, banks, lawyers, physicians, hospitals, supermarkets, utility companies, credit card companies, and computer service providers; the list is nearly endless. Five federal judges have held this section of the Patriot Act to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment (which provides that only judges may issue search warrants) and thus unconstitutional.

The Patriot Act also prohibits the recipient of an agent-written search warrant from telling anyone about it—that includes a lawyer in confidence, a priest in confession, a spouse in the home, even a judge in open court. It is this section of the Patriot Act that is being challenged by Twitter and Google in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California.

Twitter and Google have apparently received many of these unconstitutional agent-written warrants, and they want their customers to know what the government is doing. Two federal judges already have found this section of the Patriot Act to be violative of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech.") and thus unconstitutional.

The Patriot Act is the most unconstitutional legislation since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which proscribed speech critical of the government; yet the FBI loves it. Its premise is that in dangerous times, if we surrender our freedoms to the government, the government will keep us safe until the danger passes.

...
The huge flaw in that idea: There are no "safe" times and never have been, never will be, so the danger never passes.

More on those lawsuits by Twitter and by Google and Facebook

Google Inc. (GOOG:US), Facebook Inc. (FB:US) and other technology companies seeking to disclose more about user information they’re being forced to share with U.S. spy agencies received some supporting comments from judges on an appeals panel in San Francisco.

The companies object to being gagged indefinitely about Federal Bureau of Investigation demands for information, through national security letters, when investigating terrorism or espionage cases. U.S. Circuit Judge Randy Smith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, expressed concern over the lack of an expiration date.

“Why isn’t that something I ought to be worried about?” he asked. “Seems like the government ought to have some obligation.”

The U.S. Justice Department, which lost in a lower court when a judge ruled the statute unconstitutional, argues that the law shields national security investigations from the eyes of terrorists, a consideration that trumps First Amendment concerns. The three-judge appeal panel didn’t indicate which way it might rule.

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The FBI issued 21,000 national security letters in fiscal 2012. The 2001 Patriot Act significantly expanded the FBI’s authority to issue the letters by allowing special agents in field offices instead of Justice Department officials in Washington to approve a letter.

Recipients of the letters are barred from discussing them.

“More and more service providers are issuing transparency reports,” said Kurt Opsahl, an attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose clients are seeking an end to the letters. “Many would like to say what national security” demands they’re getting.

Tens of thousands of search warrants with indefinite gag orders attached each year. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Saorsa

Super Anarchist
36,810
423
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.

 
O

One of Five

Guest
Sounds a bit incestuous.
ya think?? This shit makes all the stuff under Bush II look timid and weak.

Yet we don't see our own PA jumpy up and downies doing a damn thing.

Hmm... Civil Liberties are good....

Sometimes?

 

Innocent Bystander

Super Anarchist
11,749
759
Lower Southern MD
Tom

I agree. Secret warrants and the like are not signs of a goby by or for the people. As a crowd, we need the Patriot act rolled back.

Unfortunately, we'll waste our time arguing endlessly about Sol not getting Ebola. (I'm looking at the Texas health buildings from my mother's rehab center at the moment so I could probably find him some samples to taste.)

 

Regatta Dog

Super Anarchist
24,319
123
This is the stance our Justice Department is taking? -

The U.S. Justice Department, which lost in a lower court when a judge ruled the statute unconstitutional, argues that the law shields national security investigations from the eyes of terrorists, a consideration that trumps First Amendment concerns.

There is so much that is wrong about the Patriot Act., It is a lasting tribute to OBL.

 

Saorsa

Super Anarchist
36,810
423
This is the stance our Justice Department is taking? -

The U.S. Justice Department, which lost in a lower court when a judge ruled the statute unconstitutional, argues that the law shields national security investigations from the eyes of terrorists, a consideration that trumps First Amendment concerns.

There is so much that is wrong about the Patriot Act., It is a lasting tribute to OBL.
Bush at least put an expiration date on it. Too bad it got renewed.

 

Spatial Ed

Super Anarchist
39,527
113
Get back to me after we get to the bottom of Benghazi and cure Ebola. We are in crisis overload here. IRS!

 

Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
63,414
2,115
Punta Gorda FL
Ninth Circuit Tells Twitter It Can’t Reveal Exactly How Many National Security Letters It Receives Because The DOJ Showed It Some Scary Stuff

In 2014, Twitter sued the DOJ over its National Security Letter (NSL) reporting restrictions, which limited the company from producing transparency reports with much transparency in them. NSLs were only allowed to be reported in bands. And what broad bands they were. If Twitter received 20 NSLs, it had to report it as 0-499. If it received 498, it had to use the same band. And the band started at zero, so even if Twitter didn’t receive any, it would still look like it did.


After a lot of litigation back-and-forth, the federal court finally dismissed Twitter’s First Amendment lawsuit in 2020, claiming the government had said enough things about national security to exit the lawsuit and continue to limit NSL reporting to bands of 500.


Twitter appealed. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has now weighed in. It says basically the same thing: the government has a national security interest in restricting NSL reporting from NSL recipients. And that interest outweighs Twitter’s First Amendment interest in providing more detailed information in its annual transparency reports.

...

So that's nice.

We had Calyx internet service for a while and this was one of the things I liked about them.

Contents of Calyx National Security Letter revealed


After more than a decade of waiting, the unredacted contents of a National Security Letter (NSL) filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been made public in court filings surrounding the case of Calyx Internet Access founder Nicholas Merrill who refused to heed the NSL delivered to him 11 years ago.

Merrill responded in a series of tweets, saying that "The @FBI should not be able to silence innocent critics like myself - or hide abuses - simply by saying the magic words 'National Security.'"

And he added that "the @FBI shouldn't be allowed to demand #private customer records without any suspicion of wrongdoing or without any approval from a court."
...

Hee hee. Uncooperative types like Merrill are awesome.
 


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