Thursday, September 06, 2007

Personal Privacy: U.S. Patriot Act under fire again

Your right to privacy just got a little safer.

The federal government has been under increased scrutiny from gay rights activists after it was revealed that the
Pentagon had been spying on gay groups. The Pentagon also confirmed the previous existence of a "gay bomb."

A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act today, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."

The ACLU said it was improper to issue so-called national security letters, or NSLs — investigative tools used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information — without a judge's order or grand jury subpoena.
Examples of such businesses include Internet service providers, telephone companies and public libraries.

In 2004, ruling on the initial version of the Patriot Act, the judge said the letters violate the Constitution because they amounted to unreasonable search and seizure. He found that the nondisclosure requirement — under which an Internet service provider, for instance, would not be allowed to tell customers that it was turning over their records to the government — violated free speech.

After he ruled, Congress revised the Patriot Act in 2005, and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals directed that Marrero review the law's constitutionality a second time.

The ACLU complained that Congress' revision of the law didn't go far enough to protect people because the government could still order companies to turn over their records and remain silent about it, if the FBI determined that the case involved national security.


Anonymous said...

Damn this is a popular gay blog I have seen it on Media Flash and Digg. Keep up the good fight for gay rights.

Anonymous said...

Power to the people, the way it should be.

joe said...
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