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Government United States

FBI Issued 19,000 National Security Letters In 2013 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
Trailrunner7 writes The United States federal government issued more than 19,000 National Security Letters – perhaps its most powerful tool for domestic intelligence collection – in 2013, and those NSLs contained more than 38,000 individual requests for information. The new data was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday as part of its effort to comply with a directive from President Obama to declassify and release as much information as possible about a variety of tools that the government uses to collect intelligence. The directive came in the immediate aftermath of the first revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's capabilities, methods and use of legal authorities.

The use of NSLs is far from new, dating back several decades. But their use was expanded greatly after 9/11 and NSLs are different from other tools in a number of ways, perhaps most importantly in the fact that recipients typically are prohibited from even disclosing the fact that they received an NSL. Successfully fighting an NSL is a rare thing, and privacy advocates have been after the government for years to release data on their use of the letters and the number of NSLs issued. Now, the ODNI is putting some of that information into the public record."
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FBI Issued 19,000 National Security Letters In 2013

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @06:37PM (#47337185)

    Be aware that, NSLs and FISA request are the same thing, go figure, so by releasing the number of NSLs they are at the same time hiding the number of FISA request which could be any number

    http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/userdatarequests/US/

    Foreign Intelligence Surveillence Act (FISA) requests are court orders that can require U.S. companies to hand over personal information in national security investigations.

    National Security Letters (NSLs) are requests authorized by the FBI that can require U.S. companies to hand over "the name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records" of a subscriber for use in national security investigations. They don't require a court order and cannot be used to obtain anything else from Google, such as Gmail content, search queries, YouTube videos or user IP addresses.

    This legal jargon only servers the purpose of turning any rational conversation about it into a buzzword fight.

    The reality is there are several types of secret court orders sent to individuals and cloud services companies. And there is one kind of secret order that is so secret we know nothing about, not even its quantity.

  • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Friday June 27, 2014 @09:17PM (#47338151)

    NSLs should be made illegal

    They already are:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

    Note the bit about probable cause and due process (which means getting a proper warrant supported by an affidavit). I was looking for the part that said "except where such person is suspected of terrorism," but just couldn't find it. And even if it was there, 19,000 terrorists, holy shit we're all DOOMED!!!!

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:30PM (#47338457) Journal

    Be aware that, NSLs and FISA request are the same thing, go figure, so by releasing the number of NSLs they are at the same time hiding the number of FISA request which could be any number

    Actually, no they are not. If you add the FISA requests, it jumps by almost 2000 more. The FISA requests represented there are the warrantless "probable cause" uses where a FISA warrant is not gotten first. FISA is typically handled outside the FBI which is what the 19,000 number is supposed to represent.

    http://icontherecord.tumblr.co... [tumblr.com]

    NSL letters are not secret court orders. They are extrajudicial orders for records information kept by businesses. The FISA orders can actually do more then that and actually intercept communications but only for a limited time before a FISA warrant is needed and a FISA warrant is needed before the information is supposed to be legally used in a case. You can find more about the FISA orders issues with it's annual reports to congress. Just select the reports then the year.

    http://fas.org/irp/agency/doj/... [fas.org]

    It should be noted that if no US person is involved or likely to be involved, no warrant is actually needed in the surveillance according to FISA. So the numbers should only reflect where it is possible that a US citizen is somehow part of the target for the FISA order.

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