Thursday, September 06, 2007

National Security Letters unconstitutional

US District Court Judge Victor Marrero (U. S. District Court, Southern District of New York) has struck down portions of the USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional. Specifically, the provisions related to National Security Letters and the prohibition of disclosing their existence has been found to violate the First Amendment and the separation of powers under the US Constitution. From the Washington Post:

Judge Rules Provisions of Patriot Act Unconstitutional -

A federal judge today struck down portions of the USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional, ordering the FBI to stop issuing "national security letters" that secretly demand customer information from Internet service providers and other businesses.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York ruled that the landmark anti-terrorism law violates the First Amendment and the Constitution's separation of powers provisions because it effectively prohibits recipients of the FBI letters (NSLs) from revealing their existence and does not provide adequate judicial oversight of the process.

Marrero wrote in his 106-page ruling that Patriot Act provisions related to NSLs are "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values."

The decision has the potential to eliminate one of the FBI's most widely used investigative tactics. It comes amid widespread concern on Capitol Hill over reported abuses in the way the FBI has used its NSL powers....

Thanks to fellow privacy lawyer Cappone D'Angelo at McCarthy's for passing along the news, hot off the presses.

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