A San Francisco-based federal judge ruled that Google must release customer data to the FBI, even though the agency does not have a warrant for the information, the AP reports. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ordered the Internet giant to answer seventeen out of nineteen so-called national security letters on Friday. (She wanted more information on the other two.) The letters, which came with the Patriot Act, allow the FBI to secretly ask Internet, telecommunications companies, and banks for user account information such as names, addresses, length of service, and other records as part of national security investigations. (Interestingly, in a similar case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation back in March, Illston ruled the FBI's demand that recipients not tell anyone about the letters unconstitutional.) The case will now go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but, in the meantime, Google will have to comply. Unsurprisingly, the judge's ruling did not shed much light on what the FBI is looking for or who they are targeting with the Google letters.
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