Cory Doctorow posted a BoingBoing article about a recent National Security Letter requiring the Internet Archive to reveal user information to the FBI. In case you’re not familiar with this process, certain government agencies can issue these letters under the PATRIOT act, which require you to disclose information about your online users, and you can be required not to disclose even the existence of the NSL to anyone else – not your board of directors, not your employees, not even your dog. You can tell your attorney, otherwise this would violate due process of law because you would be denied legal representation. EFF stepped into this as legal adviser to the Internet Archive and Brewster Kahle. The legal grounds on which they contested this was that the Internet Archive is a library (recognized by the State of California) which is exempt from these requirements under US law. The provisions apply to providers of Internet communication services (such as ISPs, duh, by definition).
Regardless of how you feel about government agencies having unchecked access to this kind of information — If you ran an online service that promised “we never share your information with anyone else” – what would your reaction be to an NSL requiring that you give up something like IP addresses, or physical address, or other information about a user of your service, without informing anyone? Would you be happy telling your users that you never share their information?
What I do to deal with this is have a statement on any service-oriented web site I create that lets users know that we may be required by law to give up information and that if they are concerned about this they should either not use the service or they should never use their true name or address information. But how honest is even my policy if I couldn’t tell users their information has been subpoenaed?
 From EFF’s statement: The NSL included a gag order, prohibiting Kahle from discussing the letter and the legal issues it presented with the rest of the Archive’s Board of Directors or anyone else except his attorneys, who were also gagged. The gag also prevented the ACLU and EFF from discussing the NSL with members of Congress, even though an ACLU lawyer who represents the Archive recently testified at a congressional hearing about the FBI’s misuse of NSLs. … Since the Patriot Act was passed in 2001, relaxing restrictions on the FBI’s use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase, to nearly 200,000 between 2003 and 2006. EFF’s investigations have uncovered multiple NSL misuses, including an improper NSL issued to North Carolina State University.