A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “The magistrate in this case departed from precedent, and we plan to appeal the decision. We will continue to push back on overbroad warrants.”
The Philadelphia ruling came seven months after the second US circuit court of appeals in New York ruled Microsoft could not be forced to turn over emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland that US law enforcement sought in a narcotics case.
That 14 July decision was welcomed by dozens of technology and media companies, privacy advocates and both the American Civil Liberties Union and US Chamber of Commerce.
National Security Letters [NSLs] are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more.
“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a challenge to NSLs on behalf of an unknown telecom that received an NSL in 2011. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”
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