The Patriot Act dramatically expanded the FBI's authority to use 'National Security Letters' (NSLs) to demand personal customer information from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies without prior court approval. Since 2004, the ACLU has filed three lawsuits challenging NSLs in court:
• Doe v. Holder
, which resulted in numerous court rulings finding parts of the NSL statute unconstitutional, was settled in August 2010. As a result of the case, the 'John Doe' client, Nicholas Merrill, was finally able to publicly identify himself and his former company as the plaintiffs in the case.
• Library Connection v. Gonzales
, involved an NSL served on a consortium of libraries in Connecticut. In September 2006, a federal district court ruled that the gag order on the librarians violated the First Amendment and the government ultimately withdrew both the gag order and its demand for records.
•Internet Archive v. Mukasey
, involved an NSL served on a digital library. In April 2008, the FBI withdrew the NSL and the gag order a part of the settlement of a legal challenge brought by the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.LEARN MORE: National Security LettersUSA PATRIOT Act