Philando Castile's killers secretly tried to order Facebook to let them spy on Castile's girlfriend

After shooting Philando Castile dead during a traffic stop -- a killing that was livestreamed on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds -- the police obtained a secret warrant for Reynolds's Facebook account, including her private messages and deleted messages, accompanied by a gag order that banned Facebook from every discussing the warrant's existence. Read the rest

Trump's first 4 days: a ban on disclosing scientific facts and felony charges for journalists

It's only been a handful of days since Donald Trump took office, but we're already getting strong signals about the sort of administration he intends to run: workers at US government agencies have been banned from making any public disclosures of the research they conduct at public expense until new political minders can be installed to ensure that these facts don't contradict Trump's official narrative; and six journalists have been charged with felonies for covering the protests during the inauguration.

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FBI has been harassing a Tor developer since 2015, won't tell her or her lawyer why

Since November 2015, FBI agents have been trying to get Tor developer Isis Agora Lovecruft to meet with them, but they won't tell her or her lawyer why. Read the rest

For the first time ever, a judge has invalidated a secret Patriot Act warrant

Calyx is a privacy-oriented ISP. In 2004, the FBI brought its owner, Nicholas Merrill, a National Security Letter -- one of the USA Patriot Act's secret search warrants, which comes with a gag order prohibiting the recipient from ever disclosing its existence.

Merrill has fought the gag order for 11 years, refusing to give up despite government attempts to get the case booted and to run up the court costs beyond Merrill's ability to pay.

He had a partial victory in 2010, when he and the ACLU won a court victory that allowed him to disclose some elements of the NSL, but left important details -- including the categories of information the FBI believes it can request under an NSL -- still secret. This latest victory overturns that restriction.

The judge in this case, Judge Victor Marrero, also presided over a 2007 case that overturned part of the Patriot Act, requiring investigators to go through the courts in order to get NSLs. In his Calyx decision, he condemned the government's secrecy as "extreme and overly broad."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision invalidated the gag order in full, finding no “good reason” to prevent Merrill from speaking about any aspect of the NSL, particularly an attachment to the NSL that lists the specific types of “electronic communication transactional records” (“ECTR”) that the FBI believed it was authorized to demand. The FBI has long refused to clarify what kinds of information it sweeps up under the rubric of ECTR, a phrase that appears in the NSL statute but is not publicly defined anywhere.

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