Court orders FBI to lift National Security Letter gag order for first time

For the first time, a recipient of a National Security Letter (NSL) will be able to discuss the letter's contents after a federal district court ordered the FBI to lift its gag order.

Nicholas Merrill, a computer programmer and executive director of the Calyx Institute, a nonprofit privacy advocacy group, received the NSL 11 years ago. The ruling, the Calyx Institute wrote, will allow Merrill to fully disclose the personal information the FBI requests in its NSLs.

“Judge Marrero's decision vindicates the public's right to know how the FBI uses warrantless surveillance to peer into our digital lives,” Merrill said. “I hope today's victory will finally allow Americans to engage in an informed debate about proper the scope of the government's warrantless surveillance powers.”

Even still, Merrill must wait 90 days for the order to take effect. That will the government time to decide whether to appeal.

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