Judge Orders Google To Give Customer Data To FBI
By PAUL ELIAS
SAN FRANCISCO — Google must comply with the FBI’s demand for data on certain customers as part of a national security investigation, according to a ruling by a federal judge who earlier this year determined such government requests are unconstitutional.
The decision involves “National Security Letters,” thousands of which are sent yearly by the FBI to banks, telecommunication companies and other businesses. The letters, an outgrowth of the USA Patriot Act passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, are supposed to be used exclusively for national security purposes and are sent without judicial review. Recipients are barred from disclosing anything about them.
In March, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sided with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a lawsuit brought on behalf of an unidentified telecommunications company, ruling the letters violate free speech rights. She said the government failed to show the letters and the blanket non-disclosure policy “serve the compelling need of national security” and the gag order creates “too large a danger that speech is being unnecessarily restricted.”