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Federal Appeals Court Approves FBI’s National Security Letter Gag Orders

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s use of gag orders to prevent companies from disclosing the number and details of national security letters does not run afoul of the First Amendment, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

The three-judge panel found that gag orders protect national security and therefore do not violate the companies’ constitutional rights, the Washington Times reports

The ruling means that the FBI can continue issuing thousands of gag orders a year prohibiting recipients from disclosing their existence.

NSLs require communication providers to reveal customer records, and the FBI has argued that disclosing the information could compromise national security. 

The case stems from a lawsuit filed against the Justice Department by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented two NSL recipients that wanted to notify their users about orders compelling the disclosure of customer data. 


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