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Telecoms firm hails 'significant victory' as judge blocks FBI's data demands

[ 2013-03-18 11:05] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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美国一位法官近日裁定美国联邦调查局(FBI)向电信公司发国家安全信函要求获取用户信息的行为违背宪法,要求其停止该行为。不过,这一裁决要等到90天的上诉期结束以后才能生效。加利福尼亚一家电信公司的首席执行官表示,这一裁决是“自小布什签署《爱国者法案》以来最重要的一次宪法维权胜利,从这一天起,美国政府在没有法庭监督情况下通过国家安全信函获取个人信息以及侵犯信函接收者第一修正案权利的行为将被叫停”。国家安全信函(national security letters,NSLs)是911以后美国政府反恐举措的重要一部分。去年,联邦调查局共向7000多名美国人发出超过1.6万封涉及个人信息的国家安全信函,内容多与金融、网络或电话记录有关。之前也有庭审案件指责联邦调查局滥用国家安全信函条款获取与反恐无关的个人信息。



Judge Susan Illston declared the NSLs unconstitutional as they breached the first amendment rights of the parties being served the orders.

Credo Mobile speaks out after judge orders US government to stop issuing 'national security letters' to access citizens' data.

The Californian telecoms company thought to be behind a stunning court victory that has blown a hole in the FBI's highly secretive system for collecting US citizens' private data has hailed the "significant" legal breakthrough.

Credo, based in San Francisco, spoke out after a federal judge ordered the US government to stop issuing what are called "national security letters" – demands for data that contain in-built gagging clauses that prevent the recipients disclosing even the existence of the orders or their own identity.

Michael Kieschnick, chief executive of Credo Mobile, hailed the judge's order as "the most significant court victory for our constitutional rights since the dark day when George W Bush signed the Patriot Act".

It is extremely rare for a telecoms company to challenge the system of national security letters, or NSLs, which have mushroomed since 9/11 under the Patriot Act. Credo, a subsidiary of Working Assets Inc, that directs some of its profits to support civil liberties groups, has been a long-standing advocate for reform of the NSL.

In her ruling, Judge Susan Illston declared the NSLs unconstitutional as they breached the first amendment rights of the parties being served the orders.

Kieschnick said: "This decision is notable for its clarity and depth. From this day forward, the US government's unconstitutional practice of using national security letters to obtain private information without court oversight and its denial of the first amendment rights of national security letter recipients have finally been stopped by our courts."

NSLs have been an increasingly important part of the US government's approach to counter-terrorism, though their growing use has been matched by mounting unease on the party of civil libertarians.

Last year the FBI sent out more than 16,000 of the letters relating to the private data – mainly financial, internet or phone records – of more than 7,000 Americans.

Previous court action has led to the FBI being accused of abusing its powers under the NSL statute by issuing the letters far more extensively than in the limited counter-terrorism situations for which they were devised.

The letters are among the most secretive tools of any deployed by the US state. The demand for data comes with a gagging order attached – meaning that the recipient of the NSL is not allowed even to discuss the letter in public.

As an additional affront, civil liberties groups say, the FBI is allowed to issue the letters without approval from a judge. Only the green light of a local FBI chief is required.

The judge's order will not go into immediate effect as she built in a 90-day delay to allow the government to appeal. The telecoms company was represented in the case by the Electronics Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group that advocates for public rights in the digital world. In a statement, the EFF's senior staff attorney Matt Zimmerman said the court order had exposed the constitutional shortcomings of the NSLs.

"The government's gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience."

The foundation's legal director Cindy Cohn added that the judge had also highlighted the first amendment as a protection for the public against executive surveillance power. "The NSL statute has long been a concern of many Americans, and this small step should help restore balance between liberty and security."

(Source: guardian.co.uk)


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