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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

American ISP Got Sued For Asking Questions

US Internet service provider decided to speak freely for its subscribers and was sued by the DOJ for questioning a National Security Letter.

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The anonymous US broadband provider scrutinized, in a legal manner, a NSL request sent by the authorities. Of course, the Department of Justice was unhappy about it, and instead of investigating the legitimacy of the NSL, it sued the company.

Unfortunately, this is the type of behaviour which pushes the US farther from what the country used to be – the Land of the Free. According to media reports, in 2011, when the ISP received an ultra-secret demand letter from the governmental authorities seeking data about its subscribers, the company took an extraordinary step – the ISP challenged both the underlying authority of the National Security Letter and the legitimacy of the gag order coming with it.

In fact, both challenges are allowed under a federal law which governs National Security Letters, a power greatly expanded under the Patriot Act which lets the authorities to receive detailed data on the US finances and communications without oversight from a court. It turned out that the feds have issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and were reprimanded for abusing them, despite the fact that almost none of the requests have been challenged by their recipients.

When the ISP challenged its National Security Letters in 2011, the DOJ responded with taking its own extraordinary measure: they sued the telecom company, arguing in court documents that the ISP was violating the legislation by challenging its authority. The Electronic Frontier Foundation claims that it’s a pretty intense charge – its attorney is currently representing the anonymous telecom. The consumer outfit pointed out that it is a huge deal to say the ISP is in violation of federal law having to do with a national security investigation. They strongly believe that it’s extraordinarily aggressive to say the ISP is violating the law by challenging the authority.

This is not the first case that makes attorneys raise their eyebrows. This time the abuse of power came in the form of National Security Letters, and it can make one wonder whether the DoJ is actually embracing/applying justice or it is just a puppet for the interests of the entertainment industry…

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