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Federal court orders FBI to release national security letter documents

[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Colombia Friday ordered [PDF text] the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official website] to release approximately 100,000 pages of documents detailing the FBI's use of national security letters (NSL) [CRS backgrounder, PDF; FBI backgrounder] pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [DOJ backgrounder] request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [advocacy website; press release]. The order set a July 5 deadline for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to begin releasing documents to the EFF, and ordered the DOJ and FBI to release an additional 2500 pages of documents every 30 days thereafter. The EFF submitted its FOIA request on March 12, but sued the FBI in April after the FBI's failure to respond. The EFF is seeking to conduct an independent investigation of the FBI's improper use of NSLs [JURIST report], revealed in March by a DOJ review.

On Wednesday, the FBI published new draft guidelines [JURIST report] concerning the use of NSLs, which require FBI agents to identify the specific information being requested and justify its necessity pursuant to an investigation. The guidelines are intended to correct privacy violations which the Washington Post reported [Washington Post report] Thursday were more numerous than previously reported by the DOJ's March report. AP has more.

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