Patriot Act gag-order on the Internet Archive clobbered by EFF and ACLU

A court case has forced the FBI to withdraw its gag order against the Internet Archive, brought down after the Archive was served with a Patriot Act "National Security Letter" warrant that asked for personal information about one of the Archive's users. The Archive, as a library, was reluctant to give out information on its patrons, so they contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU, and eventually won the right to discuss the case:
The NSL included a gag order, prohibiting Kahle from discussing the letter and the legal issues it presented with the rest of the Archive's Board of Directors or anyone else except his attorneys, who were also gagged. The gag also prevented the ACLU and EFF from discussing the NSL with members of Congress, even though an ACLU lawyer who represents the Archive recently testified at a congressional hearing about the FBI's misuse of NSLs.

"This is a great victory for the Archive and also the Constitution," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU. "It appears that every time a national security letter recipient has challenged an NSL in court and forced the government to justify it, the government has ultimately withdrawn its demand for records. In the absence of much needed judicial oversight – and with recipients silenced and the public in the dark – there is nothing to stop the FBI from abusing its NSL power."

"A miscarriage of justice was prevented here because the Archive decided to fight the unlawful demand for information and unconstitutional gag," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The big question is, how many other improper NSLs have been issued by the FBI and never challenged?"

Link (Thanks, Rebecca!)


  1. The Patriot (pshaw!) Act need to be overturned, or rescinded, or whatever it is they do when a law is ridiculous and is being abused. And somebody needs to give the FBI a stern talking to.

  2. Whew. Very proud former IA employee. Go Brewster! Thank you for standing up for all our rights – once again.

  3. “How was he able to discuss it with the EFF?”

    Because they were acting as his attorneys.

  4. Another good example of why we should consider ourselves lucky to have the ACLU and EFF. Gag orders! And the fun thing about some gag orders is that even telling someone you have one can be a violation of he order. Not very American of us. There are a lot of former agents out there that would love to tell their stories.

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