Back in November of 2007 the Internet Archive, a local tech non-profit responsible for, among other things, the Wayback Machine
- was slapped with a spooky National Security Letter by the FBI requesting personal data of one of the Archive's users. Rather than just fork over the information, founder Brewster Kahle decided to fight it.The letter included a gag order disallowing Kahle to discuss the issue with anyone but his attorneys, who were also gagged. Luckily, Kahle's attorneys include not only members of the ACLU but of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
, a SF group who have waded into the murky and relatively new field of free speech and the Web.
The FBI's request was ominous for a glut a reasons, the least of which is that the Archive is legally recognized as a library by the state of California. As a press release from the ACLU and EFF states "the lawsuit is the first known challenge to an NSL served on a library since Congress amended the national security letter provision in 2006 to limit the FBI's power to demand records from libraries."
Yesterday the FBI withdrew the letter and agreed to unseal the case. Here's Kahle's statement on the Archive Web site, and here's the WAPO article.
Full Disclosure: Yours truly used to work at the Archive and my unbiased opinion is that they kick ass.--Andy Wright