The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (2nd Cir.) this week struck down a portion of the Patriot Act that placed a gag order on recipients of "national security letters." The letters are administrative subpoenas sent by the FBI to organizations -- telephone companies, Internet service providers, financial institutions,Â and evenÂ libraries -- requesting subscriber information. The letters . . . [more on this from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press]
In other words, if you receive one of the letters from the FBI that requires you to turn over documents for one of its "national security" investigations, you now can consult an attorney or alert the press. Hooray for press freedom and due process. Additionally, all of the telephone companies embroiled in the request to turn over phone records now can do the same. Hooray for one step toward consumer privacy.