Friday, September 07, 2007

One small step back towards sanity

By Libby

I meant to get to this yesterday and ran out of steam. I don't want to get too excited because it's a lower court but still it's a heartening step in the right direction.
A federal judge struck down controversial portions of the USA Patriot Act in a ruling that declared them unconstitutional yesterday, ordering the FBI to stop its wide use of a warrantless tactic for obtaining e-mail and telephone data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI's use of secret "national security letters" to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters.

Michael Stickings is already on this today and sums it up.
Freedom is indeed on the march, much to Bush's chagrin, and though the government will likely appeal, "the decision could eliminate or sharply curtail the FBI's issuance of tens of thousands of national security letters (NSLs) each year to telephone companies, Internet providers and other communications firms".
This can only be a good thing.

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