In re National Security Letter 2013 (13-80089)

In March of 2013, EFF won a major court victory on behalf of an unnamed telephone company when Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District of California granted EFF's petition to set aside a controversial national security letter (NSL), declaring that 18 U.S.C. § 2709 and parts of 18 U.S.C. § 3511 were unconstitutional. Shortly after that order, however, EFF's client was forced to file a new petition as the FBI had issued new NSLs and still demanded that the company comply with the same NSL statute, even though the district court had already found the statute to be unconstitutional on its face.

Notwithstanding the serious constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute, but noting that the Ninth Circuit would itself evaluate the facial constitutionality of the statute as part of the government's appeal, the district court nonetheless denied EFF's client's petition and ordered them to comply with both the NSLs in the interim. This denial of EFF's client's second NSL petition, which EFF argues is improper and inconsistent with the First Amendment, has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit, with briefing to begin in early 2014.

This latest challenge is (as of January of 2014) the third active EFF legal challenge to the FBI's NSL authority. Links to the related NSL cases are here and here.

Update: Oral argument occurred on October 8, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 4 of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals located at 95 Seventh Street in San Francisco. You can listen to the argument here http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view.php?pk_id=0000013407

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