PATRIOT just keeps on giving

The Feds are invoking PATRIOT in letters to journalists insisting that they retain all their materials related to the Adrian Lamo hacking case (Lamo gained notoriety for breaking into companies’ systems, and then offering to help fix the holes he exploited; Lamo turned himself in on September 9). An FBI spokesman stated that “all reporters who spoke with Lamo” should expect such letters.

This flies in the face of traditional subpoena power, and in fact may well be in violation of the DOJ’s own guidelines, not to mention New York law. Of course, that those so notified aren’t allowed to tell disclose that they’ve been contacted, so these actions by the Feds are only now coming to light. The best part may well be that they’re using clauses of the Act designed to apply to ISPs and the like, not journalists (the specific language is apparently “providers of electronic communication”). More coverage here.

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