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DOJ Announces New Methods For Reporting National Security Requests 117

As the NSA metadata collection scandal has developed, a number of technology and communications companies have fought to increase the transparency of the data collection process by publishing reports on how much data government agencies are asking them for. These transparency reports have been limited, however, because most government requests are entwined with a gag order. In a speech two weeks back, President Obama said this would change, and now the Dept. of Justice has announced new, slightly relaxed rules about what information companies can share. According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish: how many Criminal Process requests they received, how many National Security Letters they received, how many accounts were affected by NSLs, how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders were received (both for communications content and 'non-content'), and how many customers were targeted by FISA requests. The companies still aren't allowed to give specific numbers, but they can report them in bands of 1,000 — for example, 0-999, 1,000-1,999, etc. Information requests for old services cannot be disclosed for at least six months. The first information requests for a new service cannot be disclosed for two years. The companies also have the option of lumping all the NSL and FISA requests together — if they do that, they can report in bands of 250 instead of 1,000.
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DOJ Announces New Methods For Reporting National Security Requests

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  • by shiftless ( 410350 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:40PM (#46094149) Homepage

    This is to be expected. Instead of repealing the police state, they are normalizing it. Welcome to the new Normal.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:43PM (#46094187) Homepage
    Keep the number of requests below 1000.

    Vastly expand the scope of each request.
  • First amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:59PM (#46094345) Journal

    Any gag order at all is incompatible with the First Amendment's prohibition on infringement of free speech.

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @05:06PM (#46094417)

    Nothing of value is being done, which reflects the politicians which are offering no valuable solutions. End the programs, end the corruption, and for pity sake end the careers of these corrupt politicians. The data collection and paid shilling are useless to the population. They have value to an entrenched group of people who use all available means (illegal and legal) to further entrench themselves.

    Claiming that FISA courts can't release any data is idiocy and completely against the spirit of the Constitution/Bill of Rights. John Doe could be redacted from the court documents so that we could see what is happening without assisting John Doe. If Company A may be a risk, Company A could also be redacted for the same purposes.

    Nobody should be surprised at this decision, Obama stated that nothing would change except for who is holding the data that is collected. The solution is to vote out every career politician and elect people of high moral character.

  • Re:Obfuscation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @05:21PM (#46094551) Homepage
    Oh, I think we've only started down the road. We're not close to the end of the road yet.

    Yes, they can stop us for any reason. Detain us. Search our laptops and devices without a court order or oversight. There are huge constitution free zones. They can snoop into all private communications to the point where no two human beings can have a private conversation. We have to take our shoes off at the airport and submit to naked scans and patdowns. People like Aaron Swartz can be harassed to death over things that are minor crimes if they are even crimes at all. Rich people routinely get away with things that poor people go to jail for -- for years. Compare penalties for copyright infringement to penalties for murder or robbery. Police brutality is becoming more common. Filming the police from a distance without interfering is treated as a crime.

    How soon do you think it will be before they can search your home without a warrant? How soon before you have to show ID to travel within the US -- maybe even within a city? How long before anonymous cash disappears?

    I'm just asking. But if you think this is just the icing on the cake, I want to tell you that this is still the cake, and there is a lot more cake to come before we get to the icing.

    Those who fail to learn from history. Etc.
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @05:22PM (#46094557) Homepage

    According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish:

    Ahh, I feel so much better, now. The rich who monitor everything we do have convinced the powerful who monitor everything we do to disclose slightly more about their constant surveillance of us to We The People, sovereigns of this nation.

  • Can't say "none" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jonathunder ( 105885 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @06:11PM (#46095055) Homepage

    I read the letter. The smallest "bands" that can be reported are zero through 250 for aggregate orders, or zero through 999 for more discrete types. In other words, the companies are not allowed to say there were none; instead they have to say between 0 and x.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @06:11PM (#46095063)
    The reason I wrote the above is because it has a real impact on our lives.

    Let's take Obamacare for an example, because it's a recent and good example. Congress passed, and Obama signed, some things into law.

    When events did not go as planned, Obama announced that they were going to ignore certain parts of the law. (Which, in fact, he has no legal authority to do.)

    But that means the law is still in place. If he can ignore it by degree at any time, then he can reinstate it by decree at any time.

    If the law isn't changed, but just some bureaucrat is deciding to ignore the regulations today, who is to say they won't stop ignoring it again tomorrow?

    Answer: nobody. And that's why it's important to know.

    This country is supposed to be subject to The Rule Of Law. It isn't run by "whatever the fuck I feel like doing today".

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury