PRIVACY + SECURITY BLOG

News, Developments, and Insights

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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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Electronic Surveillance Statistics for 2005

Surveillance Audio

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has released its annual report on the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders, Wiretap Act orders, and National Security Letters issued in 2005.

For FISA surveillance orders, 2072 applications were made to the FISA court; none were denied. Over the past few years, the number of orders has been steadily increasing:

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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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