back to article It's A-OK for FBI agents to silence web giants, says appeals court

Gagging orders in the FBI's National Security Letters are all above board and constitutional, a California court has ruled. These security letters are typically sent to internet giants demanding information on whoever is behind a username or email address. Crucially, these requests include clauses that prevent the …

  1. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Ninth Circus Court

    Most overturned circuit court in the US...

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Ninth Circus Court

      No it's not. Stop spouting that crap.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Ninth Circus Court

      This seems to be a reasonable investigation of that claim:

  2. JaitcH

    The REAL word to use is CENSORSHIP

    The UK Government regularly censors the news. They call it 'DSMA-Notice', earlier known as DA-Notice (Defence Advisory Notice), and earlier called a Defence Notice (D-Notice).

    All operate on the 'be a decent chap principle' (D-Notices or DA-notices are only advisory requests, and so are not legally enforceable).

    A web site I moderated frequently received them - until it was recognised that we simply posted them, There are some 'standing' (permanent) DSMA Notices:

    DA-Notice 01: Military Operations, Plans & Capabilities

    DA-Notice 02: Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapons and Equipment

    DA-Notice 03: Ciphers and Secure Communications

    DA-Notice 04: Sensitive Installations and Home Addresses

    DA-Notice 05: United Kingdom Security & Intelligence Special Services.

    So much for 'freedom of the Press'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The REAL word to use is CENSORSHIP

      Don't forget Secret Police threatening journalists who seek to report Cabinet Ministers' sexual habits.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The REAL word to use is CENSORSHIP

      The D-Notices are something very different. That is to ask the press to not report on pending operations.

      If you are planning a secret attack (D-Day, for example) and the press reports that in advance, it is no longer a secret attack and is liable to be a disaster, costing even more casualties and deaths. Likewise, sensitive installations are home addresses of military or intelligence service personnel should not be published. (In Germany you can't generally publish the name, face or address of a suspected criminal, for example, innocent until proven guilty, or at least identity protected until proven guilty, the are exceptions, when it refers to a public person (politician, TV personality, singer etc.).)

      For such things, I think these notices are fine. If it was a DSMA to stop the reporting of Thersa May's underpants falling down during a speech, I would call it frivolous and they should be ridiculed for wrongful use of such a tool.

      This is very different to an NSL. That is a secret warrant that doesn't even need judicial review! If it is ongoing surveillance, then I can see the not informing the suspect as being reasonable - as long as the warrant has been signed off by a judge as being valid and meeting all the usual checks and balances for the issuing of a warrant (i.e. no fishing expedition). As it is, I am against NSLs in their current form, but not against not tipping off a suspect under legal surveillance.

    3. collinsl

      Re: The REAL word to use is CENSORSHIP

      At least you are legally free to ignore them and even post about them.

      In the US if the companies ignored them they'd be in a world of legal hurt.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    There is what something is called and what it is actually used for.

    "National Security Letter" sounds so much better than "Demand for all your customers meta data on an ongoing basis."

    Which is what it is.

    So I'd be careful about what something is called, what it's supposed to be used for, and what it's actually used for.

  4. Alistair Silver badge


    @John Smith19

    I've seen a bunch of NSLs, rather accidentally since they were issued to a company that was bought by the org I worked at. Admittedly they were *older* NSLs from 2002. However they were quite specific, usually asking for details relating to a specific IP address over a period of two or three weeks. There were a couple that were based on email address. That the entity that had received the letters *was previously* an American company, split off into a Canadian subsidiary raised my hackles *just* a wee bit.

    As for the "demand for all your cx's metadata on an ongoing basis" -- Umm. I hate to put it this way but there are two companies in the US that could provide effectively *all* internet metadata to whatever TLA or FLA asked for it. Mind you, that would get expensive simply in the tech to handle the volume.

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