Judge Strikes Down Secretive Surveillance Law

A federal judge this week struck down a controversial set of laws allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to seek people’s data without a court’s approval, saying the strict secrecy orders demanded by the laws are not constitutional.

Judge Susan Illston, of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said the laws, which underlie a tool known as a “national security letter,” violate the First Amendment and the separation of powers principles. In her order, Judge Illston ordered the government to stop issuing national security letters or enforcing their gag orders, although she said enforcement of her judgment would be stayed pending appeal.

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