Internet Archive Wins Push-Back Fight with U.S. Government

The Internet Archive has successfully pushed back against a federal national security letter (NSL) request for Archive member records. Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive co-founder, director and digital librarian, discussed the NSL process and outcome with the San Francisco Chronicle:

Kahle … was appalled when his volunteer lawyers told him in November that the FBI was demanding records of all communications with one of his patrons as part of an investigation of “international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

The FBI document, called a national security letter, told Kahle he could be prosecuted if he discussed the subject with anyone but his lawyers, and allowed him to speak with his attorneys only in person. Kahle said his Internet Archive, which has 500,000 card-holders, doesn’t even keep the records the FBI was seeking.

He was allowed to speak publicly Wednesday [5/7/08] under a rare settlement in which the FBI agreed to withdraw its letter and lift the gag order. That should show other librarians, and members of the public who receive any of the nearly 50,000 national security letters the government issues each year, that “you can push back on these,” Kahle said.

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