The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released redacted copies of key documents in a constitutional challenge to national security letters (NSLs). These controversial legal tools give the FBI warrantless access to private customer information held by businesses. The law gives the FBI the power to ban a business receiving an NSL from disclosing its existence, but EFF contends that this runs afoul of the First Amendment.
The challenge is being brought by a telephone company that does business in California. Not much else is known about it. The Wall Street Journal speculates that the company may be Credo, a wireless reseller. Its parent company is Working Assets, known for giving millions of dollars to liberal groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
News of the case surfaced only this week, but the NSL at the heart of the dispute was sent to the company early last year. When the firm objected, the government filed a complaint seeking to compel the firm to comply. With support from EFF, the company responded by challenging the constitutionality not only of the specific letter but of the entire NSL statute.