A Thousand a Week Become "Building Blocks" for the FBI
FBI Backs Off From Secret Order for Data After Lawsuit
By Ellen Nakashima Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, May 8, 2008; D01
The FBI has withdrawn a secret administrative order seeking the name, address and online activity of a patron of the Internet Archive after the San Francisco-based digital library filed suit to block the action.
It is one of only three known instances in which the FBI has backed off from such a data demand, known as a "national security letter," or NSL, which is not subject to judicial approval and whose recipient is barred from disclosing the order's existence.
NSLs are served on phone companies, Internet service providers and other electronic communications service providers, but because of the gag order provision, the public has little way to know about them. Their use soared after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, when Congress relaxed the standard for their issuance. FBI officials now issue about 50,000 such orders a year.
. . . FBI Assistant Director J…