For those that aren’t aware, National Security Letters (NSLs) are these shady Orwellian instruments used by the FBI to spy on citizens without a warrant. The really creepy part about them is that you aren’t permitted to know if there is one out on you. It’s all one giant secret, you know, to get those terrorists. Well, Google has finally come out and given us some color on NSLs. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) gives us the scoop:
Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, the National Security Letter (NSL) power provided by five statutory provisions is one of the most frightening and invasive. These letters–the type served on communications service providers such as phone companies and ISPs and are authorized by 18 U.S.C. 2709–allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens’ private communications and Internet activity without any prior judicial review. To make matters worse, recipients of NSLs are subject to gag orders that forbid them from ever revealing the letters’ existence to anyone.