PRIVACY + SECURITY BLOG

News, Developments, and Insights

high-tech technology background with eyes on computer display

National Security Letter Violations by the FBI

FBI logo

According to the a DOJ investigation, the FBI has violated the law on several occasions in connection with the issuance of National Security Letters (NSLs). A NSL is a demand letter issued to a particular entity or organization to turn over various record and data pertaining to individuals. They do not require probable cause, a warrant, or even judicial oversight. They also come with a gag order, preventing the recipient of the letter from disclosing that the letter was ever issued. Compliance is mandatory.

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The Pentagon, the CIA, and National Security Letters

Government Surveillance

From the New York Times:

The Pentagon and to a lesser extent the CIA have been using a little-known power to look at the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage within the United States, officials said Saturday.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

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The FBI and Illegal Cell Phone Records For Sale

Cell Phone Record Privacy

A while ago, I blogged about companies that were selling records of the numbers people call on their cell phones on the Internet. Congress is currently conducting an investigation into these companies.

Today, Bob Sullivan at MSNBC reports:

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Should J. Edgar Hoover’s Name Be Removed From the FBI Building?

FBI Building J Edgar Hoover

A recent article in the LA Times discusses the ongoing debate about whether to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI building. J. Edgar Hoover was the head of the FBI from 1924, its early days before it was even called the FBI (it used to be called the Bureau of Investigation), until his death in 1972. Throughout his career, Hoover engaged in a massive array of abuses. According to the LA Times article:

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National Security Letters

National Security Letter - NSL

Did you know that the FBI can issue a letter to an Internet Service Provider or a financial institution demanding that they turn over data on a customer? The letter doesn’t require probable cause. No judge must authorize the letter. The FBI simply issues the letter and gets the information. There’s a gag order, too, preventing the institution receiving the letter from mentioning this fact.

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