Sunday, March 17, 2013

U.S. judge rules secret records searches illegal

Stays order 90 days for appeal
The constitution was not written for 1776; it was written to withstand the test of time...

San Francisco – When federal agents sweep into a bank, phone company or internet service provider, they inform the management that if they reveal their searches and seizures, they will be charged with a crime.

“National Security Letters” place a severe limit on the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to a ruling by a U.S. District Court Judge.

The practice - and many others - began with the passage of the Patriot Act following the 9/11 attacks, designed to fight terrorism.(click here) Personal intelligence thus secretly gleaned is often used against persons in cases unrelated to national security, according to plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit. 

While customers go uninformed, those who have received the national security letter – and the accompanying threat – are prevented from informing their customers as to what happened. Government agents must reverse that policy, ordered Judge Susan Illston on Friday. She gave the Department of Justice 90 days to appeal the ruling. The prohibitive order takes effect in 90 days.

“This pervasive use of non-disclosure orders, coupled with the government's failure to demonstrate that a blanket prohibition on recipients' ability to disclose the mere fact of receipt of an NSL is necessary to serve the compelling need of national security, creates too large a danger that speech is being unnecessarily restricted,” Judge Illston said.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the internet rights group,Electronic Freedom Foundation.  (click here for more information about the foundation and its program of electronic surveillance self defense)

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