Skip to comments.Judge Strikes Down Secretive Surveillance Law
Posted on 03/18/2013 2:28:37 PM PDT by JerseyanExile
A federal judge this week struck down a controversial set of laws allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to seek people's records without a court's approval, saying the strict secrecy orders demanded by the laws are not constitutional.
Judge Susan Illston, of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said the laws, which underlie a tool known as a "national security letter," violate the First Amendment and the separation of powers principles. In her order, Judge Illston ordered the government to stop issuing national security letters or enforcing their gag orders, although she said enforcement of her judgment would be stayed pending appeal.
A Department of Justice spokesman said the department was "reviewing the order."
National security letters date back to the 1980s and were strengthened under the USA Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law put into place after Sept. 11. The letters allow the FBI to get data on phone, financial and electronic records without the approval of a judge or grand jury, as long as the head of an FBI field office certifies that the records would be relevant to a counterterrorism investigation. And they typically come with strict secrecy orders, barring the recipient from acknowledging the case to anyone but attorneys.
The California case, a rare test of the national security letter statute, involves an unnamed phone company that has been fighting the letter since 2011. The Wall Street Journal, in a Page One article last year, profiled the case and uncovered clues narrowing down the companies that could possibly be involved.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
No worries. Surveillance is less and less secretive all the time.