Back when this page was first started, NSLs—national security letters—were a big topic of conversation. Secret, without accountability, they were a large part of what we saw as wrong with FISA and its implementation. They are an integral part of the PATRIOT Act, which was passed hurridly in a time of fear, and we have called the repeal, or at least reform, of that misnamed legislation from the beginning.
Well, it seems as though others share our concerns, and thanks to Yahoo! for their publication of three of these after the wildly inappropriate gag orders were lifted. Here is the story, from ActivistPost:
The story quotes a Yahoo! representative as follows: “The release of these documents and information regarding NSLs today is consistent with our commitment to share as much information as we legally can regarding government data requests. We believe there is value in making these documents available to the public to promote an informed discussion about the legal authorities available to law enforcement.
“Each NSL included a nondisclosure provision that prevented Yahoo from previously notifying its users or the public of their existence,” the company ominously stated.
And these NSLs are not uncommon; again quoting from the above article, “as of 2013, the Obama administration admitted an average of 60 per day were being issued. Alarmingly, in its latest transparency report, Apple claimed the number of “national security orders” — including NSLs — had doubled in just six months.”
I am not sure that I have any solutions to suggest—keep pushing for transparency, of course, and maybe check into the People’s Convention in Philadelphia before the Democratic Convention; they are developing a People’s Platform; some sort of reform might be a good suggestion. Here is their Web site (full disclosure: I will be attending the convention and have worked with organizers before on this and other projects): https://thepeoplesrevolution.org/