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Kahle challenges FBI and FBI withdraws demand for IA user information

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has withdrawn a secret demand, issued as a national security letter (NSL), that the Internet Archive (IA) provide the agency with a user’s personal information after Brewster Kahle, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the records request in court.

Since the Patriot Act was authorized in 2001, relaxing restrictions on the FBI’s use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase. Reports from the Justice Department’s Inspector General reveal that the FBI has issued nearly 200,000 NSL between 2003 and 2006. Multiple investigations have found serious FBI abuses of regulations and numerous potential violations of the law.

In each of the three court challenges to the NSL program, the FBI has withdrawn the information demands, ACLU’s Goodman said. “I think that calls into question how much the FBI needed the information in the first place and, frankly, whether the FBI needs this kind of sweeping and unchecked surveillance power,” she said.