After 11 years, one guy gets an FBI NSL (National Security Letter) Gag order lifted.
"For more than a decade, the government has refused to allow Mr. Merrill and other NSL recipients to tell the public just how broadly the FBI has interpreted its authority to surveil individuals’ digital lives in secret using NSLs. Tens of thousands of NSLs are issued by FBI officers every year without a warrant or judicial oversight of any kind.
The letters demand disclosure of user information and are almost always accompanied by complete gag orders. Today’s decision will finally allow Mr. Merrill to speak about all aspects of the NSL and, specifically, to inform the public about the categories of personal information that the FBI believes it can obtain using an NSL." [Calyx Institute]
That is a lot of legal fighting over a really big issue.
"In 2001, the Patriot Act expanded the FBI’s authority to unilaterally demand that businesses and ISPs turn over user records -- and never talk about the request -- simply by sending a National Security Letter (NSL) claiming the data was needed for national security purposes." [DSLR]
The judge's decision is here.
In 90 days, we will hear what the FBI gets from these letters; probably way more than they should.
Or view it now at Yale.