Posted on October 6, 2017
Update: CREDO fights for your privacy in the face of government intrusion
Protecting privacy is a core value for CREDO and a hallmark of our promise to our customers. We value your privacy, and we will fight to defend it.
Last year, after we successfully fought a federal government gag order, we were able to let you know about CREDO’s involvement in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of National Security Letters (NSLs). NSLs are tools the federal government can use to secretly demand information about our customers. The lawsuit involves one NSL we received from the FBI in 2011 and two NSLs we received in 2013. When we received the NSLs, the government prevented us from notifying our customers or the public of the letters’ existence. In fact, even after we won the right to talk about the 2013 NSLs and our participation in the case, we still weren’t allowed to disclose that CREDO had received the 2011 NSL until earlier this year.
In 2013, when our participation in the case was still secret, we received a groundbreaking decision in the district court for the Northern District of California declaring that NSLs and their gag orders violated the First Amendment. But this July, after many procedural twists and turns in our case, as well as a congressional amendment to NSL law, the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld the revised version of the NSL statute against our First Amendment challenge.
So, earlier this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who is representing CREDO and our co-challenger, Cloudflare, in this lawsuit, petitioned to have the larger en banc Ninth Circuit rehear the case.
According to EFF, the circuit court ruling was flawed and should be reconsidered:
The court ruled that the FBI is entitled to significant deference in its decision to issue NSLs and gag electronic service providers like our clients from telling anyone about these requests for customer records.
Notably, the court’s opinion made little effort to fit the NSL statute into the body of First Amendment law regarding prior restraints—government gag orders that prevent speech in advance. As our petition explains, the decision “departs from previously undisputed Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent on a doctrine of fundamental constitutional importance: the First Amendment’s near-total prohibition on prior restraints.”
You can read more about the lawsuit on EFF’s website.