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News: Part of the Patriot Act deemed unconstitutional

Category: Internet
Posted: 12:32PM
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ZDNet -

A key portion of the Patriot Act is unconstitutional and violates Americans' free speech rights, a federal judge said Thursday in a case that could represent a bitter setback for the Bush administration's attempts to expand its surveillance powers. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the section of the Patriot Act that permits the FBI to send Internet service providers secret demands, called national security letters, for customer information violates the First Amendment and unreasonably curbs the authority of the judiciary.

FBI agents can use NSLs to surreptitiously obtain logs of American citizens' e-mail correspondence, a list of Web sites visited and queries submitted to search engines, without obtaining a judge's approval in advance. NSLs can also be used to obtain bank and telephone records. They are supposed to be used only when an investigation is allegedly relevant to a terrorist investigation.



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