Yesterday I heard Brewster Kahle on NPR’s On The Media talking about the National Security Letter that was served to his organization The Internet Archive by the FBI back in November. When they were served he was then automatically gagged from discussing the NSL with anyone other than his lawyers. “The NSL program, expanded when Congress passed the… Patriot Act shortly after… Sept. 11, 2001… allows the FBI and other U.S. government agencies to issue administrative subpoenas to U.S. businesses for customer and other personal information.” When Kahle refused to comply with the order- which asked for personal information about a user of the IA, their address and activity logs, he, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit against the FBI on constitutional grounds (in Kahle’s words “Push back”).
Long story short, the FBI withdrew the NSL (as they have each time they have been challenged..3 out of some 200,000 between 2003 and 2006) the gag order was lifted, and freedom prevailed.
In the On The Media piece (transcript up later today), Bob Garfield asks a question along the lines of ‘Do you think they didn’t realize that they were serving a NSL to a library?’ Who wouldn’t consider the collection of everything ever online EVER, a library? Um, our government, that’s who.