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FBI Issued 19,000 National Security Letters In 2013

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the going-for-the-high-score dept.

Government 61

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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FUCK BETA (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337117)

FUCK BETA

Re:FUCK BETA (-1, Offtopic)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | about 2 months ago | (#47337259)

I agree.

Re:FUCK BETA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337279)

FUCK BETA

Is she hot?

Re:FUCK BETA (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 2 months ago | (#47337297)

FUCK BETA

Is she hot?

In a mechanical sort of way, yea I'd say so.

Re:FUCK BETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337701)

How much? The Futurama ship or Kink dot com strapped to a sybian until she's speaking Chinese?

Re:FUCK BETA (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337685)

No. It's: Fuck Beta Indubitably

So that is why they are slow (1, Offtopic)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 2 months ago | (#47337127)

So that is why they are slow, or completely worthless on my FOIA requests. They are busy sending NSLs to everybody under the sun instead of opening up a filing cabinet and hitting the scanner.

Re:So that is why they are slow (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337291)

19,000? Sounds like they're not doing a very good job securing our nation if they need that many, because it's proof that either we have terrorists on every street corner or they don't know what they're doing and therefore don't know where the terrorists are.

Before anybody replies, yes, I know what this is really proof of unfortunately.

Re:So that is why they are slow (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 months ago | (#47338199)

Well, it is the FBI and not the NSA. The NSA just spies on everyone, the FBI has to actually ink some words to a piece of paper. At least they can skip the court process so you will remain safe and not free.

Re:So that is why they are slow (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 months ago | (#47338919)

To the FBI, we are all unconfirmed terrorists.

Re:So that is why they are slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47341899)

I know what you mean. This is fairly clear evidence of the international terrorist organization's operation that entails firstly installed devices with which they can control people's thoughts and decisions, and secondly, controlling the FBI such that they would issue that number of Security Letters, as they have "hijacked" the 19-code from the Qur'an to 1) try and convince people that it's really God that's doing it (as few people know much about God, they find they can take advantage of it) and 2) create a sign through which they can be identified. This ties into the girl, a child, who stabbed an acquaintance 19 times because of a mysterious being telling her to.

Re:So that is why they are slow (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47338279)

So fuck the FCC
Fuck the FBI
Fuck the CIA
Livin' in the motherfuckin' USA

--Steve Earle

Re:So that is why they are slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47339859)

It was said much simpler by N.W.A.

NSLs should be made illegal (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337173)

Secret warrants you can't challenge are the same as not needing one at all.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 months ago | (#47337325)

NSLs should be made illegal

Well, you need to elect people who will make it so. The majority has spoken, and despite what mass media says, they approve.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337961)

Is this in the same sense that the majority has spoken and they don't care about enforcing laws against corruption, or violates of separation of powers? There has been no outpouring of support for the use of NSLs; people just don't care enough to vote, just like they don't care about every other important democratic issue.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338075)

Yeah, a lot of people hoped for change and they got it; things are now even worse.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (3, Informative)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 2 months ago | (#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!!!!

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (0)

mariox19 (632969) | about 2 months ago | (#47338459)

I hope I'm remembering this correctly, but haven't some people challenged the National Security Letters, only to have the FBI rescind them before the case comes to court, presumably because they fear having a court rule them unconstitutional?

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about 2 months ago | (#47339121)

They already are.

This. Each an every NSL needs to be challenged.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 months ago | (#47352139)

This. Each an every NSL needs to be challenged.

The guy behind Lavabit tried. Look how far that got him. The government effectively denied him the right to have a lawyer. Good luck representing yourself against government lawyers.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47339689)

19,000 thats just the idiots driving the 'fuck beta' campaign. The real terrrorist watch list in short form is evey one in the US that dosnt work for a 3 letter government Agency.

The actual list is that plus everyone else in the world but americans are happy with the second part so thats all right. You get the government you deserve.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47339717)

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!!!!

You also missed the parts further down in the Constitution giving the Supreme Court the authority to set interpretation of law in the Constitution, a point many Slashdotters who claim to care so much about the Constitution seem to always miss.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 months ago | (#47341293)

19,000 terrorists, holy shit we're all DOOMED!!!!

That doesn't sound right - there must be more than just 19,000 members of the NSA, CIA, FBI, Congress, and President.

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47337681)

why would you need to challenge them if you won't even know they are served?

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47339001)

what good is a phone when you're unable to speak?

Re:NSLs should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338769)

They were found by a Federal judge to be unconstitutional over a year ago. Whatever happened with that? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337223)

TYPO: NSLs and FISA request are **NOT** the same thing

I saved this pic from a previous "transparency report"

http://imgur.com/eG6DHDm

NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (4, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47337403)

A few details did slip out over the years via the "Connecticut Four" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] and others who went to open courts.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05... [nytimes.com]
http://www.americanlibrariesma... [americanli...gazine.org]
National Security Letters (January 10, 2011)
https://www.aclu.org/national-... [aclu.org]
"...web sites a person visits, a list of e-mail addresses with which a person has corresponded, or even unmask the identity of a person who has posted anonymous speech on a political website."
" provision also allows the FBI to forbid or "gag" anyone who receives an NSL from telling anyone about the record demand. "
FBI Withdraws Unconstitutional National Security Letter After ACLU and EFF Challenge (May 7, 2008)
https://www.eff.org/press/arch... [eff.org]
"a digital library recognized by the state of California -- and its attorneys in November of 2007. The letter asked for personal information about one of the Archive's users, including the individual's name, address, and any electronic communication transactional records pertaining to the user."
FBI Backs Off From Secret Order for Data After Lawsuit (May 8, 2008)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337971)

So are they using NSLs and FISAs to hide who they are tracking here on Slashdot?

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47339229)

Most posts about news on Slashdot are 'in' the news already over a few .com sites.
Slashdot brings a lot of news to many people globally.
Thanks to Snowden people can consider "quantum insert":
http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]
If the govs are tracking people just for reading or commenting on news its kind of strange given a 24/7 news cycle.

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 months ago | (#47337757)

Everyone should know with absolute certainty that there are NOT 19,000 investigations of terrorism or threats to national security going on. This is evident proof that National security letters are not being used for national security.

The powers of the FBI and other federal law enforcement should be curtailed, NSL's are ripe for abuse of power.

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47341335)

Please do tell what they are used for then. What would make these more useful than a search warrant for domestic crimes? Quite possible to see where bad guy A has some connection with US person B and they want to see if any connections to US person B are possibly connected. If I recall, the government was doing 5 hops from the initial person so maybe the number represents a court order per person in the chain of hops?

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (1)

Imrik (148191) | about 2 months ago | (#47341485)

What makes these more useful is the lack of judicial review and the NDA attached to them.

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 months ago | (#47338457)

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.

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47351123)

Like the NSL to the US company Lavabit, over a certain American named Edward J. Snowden?

Re:NSLs and FISA request are the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338531)

""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""

Dumbfounded by that statement, so somehow not doing anything to halt this abusive power and protect peoples privacy is not okay, but everyone will sleep better knowing that Uncle Sam and his mob goons are releasing information on a 20 year old request letter initiative, but won't release what is currently going on with spy tools or any of the other spying agencies that are getting away with far worse?

And having said that 19,000 requests seems (laughably) way off from the other agencies and secret court order demands. But hey I dont mind living in a country that has always tried any tactic to control its citizens then complain about other countries suppressing protests to oust dictators, or whatever else the US complains about with another country. This has been going on for years, and now people all the sudden care? There should have been watch dog citizens 50-70 years ago, because maybe this spying wouldn't be at the level it is now, another way of saying this cannot be stopped, nor is going to be scaled back.

And where is the Supreme Courts or politicians in all of this that know/knew the federal government according to the constitution is illegal, and so are federal/secretive courts that makeup immunity laws/exceptions.

Civil Disobedience (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337349)

If ever there was a time for massive civil disobedience, this is it. Organized, unified disclosure of NSL's would make clear that we refuse to be subjected to the tools of a totalitarian state. Regards, Anonymous Coward :|

Re:Civil Disobedience (1)

JonathanR (852748) | about 2 months ago | (#47339955)

I'll sign up to this program.

Re:Civil Disobedience (2, Funny)

strikethree (811449) | about 2 months ago | (#47341243)

ROFLMAO

If ever there was a time for massive civil disobedience, this is it.... Regards, Anonymous Coward

I will be right there next to you... erm, maybe. I will be right there next to someone anyways.

It is kind of pointless to say, "rah rah rah! go civil disobedience" and then hide behind Anonymous Coward. I am sure the NSA already knows that strikethree is me.

But yeah. You go with your bad self. Stand up (well, hide behind a keyboard and a hundred proxies) and tell The Man, "No more! I (whoever I might be) will not stand for this!"

You just gotta love it. I could not even invent this shit.

Re:Civil Disobedience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354973)

Uh, yeah, the anonymous coward thing was the original joke. Glad that you got it...

And every one of them... (4, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 months ago | (#47337431)

a blatant violation of the US Constitution.

Re:And every one of them... (0)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 months ago | (#47337471)

Don't get excited about my post, Mr. FBI Man. You already have a file on me because I'm a liberal. Just find the file and increment the counter for the number of times I've pointed out the unwelcome obvious.

Re:And every one of them... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337871)

because your a liberal? LOL seriously. With all thats going on with the IRS, all the crap directed constantly at the right, ( and the truely far left), ie, anyone who DOESN'T support obama.....and you think you as a LIBERAL are the one being watched? How about the "homeland security" shutting down anti-obama protests. PEACEFUL rallies. How about anyone who didn't like obama, on the right AND left, but still mostly on the right being harassed by the IRS so they couldn't effect the vote. And the best, magic crashing hard drive of 7 people....all COMPLETELY unrecoverable of course, and inexplicably not sent to the offsite backups. Cuz we being IT professionals know how likely that is....My god man. If you voted for obama like the rest of the idiots who didn't want to seem racist, you are GOLDEN.

Re:And every one of them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337983)

While I don't think "liberal" is a particularly useful term nowadays, Obama has not acted particularly liberal. He's probably further to the right than Nixon. You may notice that, barring social issues, the Democrat and Republican parties now support virtually identical policies. (which hasn't gone so well for the Republicans, as it forces them to tack to the right to differentiate themselves when they're already in their ideal position)

Re:And every one of them... (0, Troll)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 months ago | (#47339015)

Learn a little history. They'll target conservative extremists, but they create files on liberals just for being liberal.

IRS affair has nothing to do with the FBI. (Also, there is some indication that it's more Bengazi-style spin from the right than actual substance.)

Obama has nothing to do with it.

Re:And every one of them... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47339895)

Obama has nothing to do with it.

Indeed, he's sitting on the sidelines, NOT DOING A THING ABOUT IT, smiling and waving.

Re:And every one of them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47341845)

Obama is blamed when he does something. Obama is blamed when he does nothing. At this point, it's all background noise.

Re:And every one of them... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338111)

Everyone has a "file". In the era of paper documentation that was actually a real file, but that was in the past. Currently the "file" is not a dossier. The "File" is a search capacity, which allows the searcher to have all the data about you pulled from all the databases. "Data" means emails, internet searches and postings, all internet activity plus all other non-internet activity, such as telephones calls, car movement and air travel, purchase activity etc.

When there will be next NSA grilling in the congress, following two questions will be raised and if answers are honest conversation will be following: Q: "Do you have a dossier on US person" A. "No, we do not have dossiers or files on US persons". Q: "Can you query and get all the information, both public and non public, about the US person's life". A: "Yes, sir".

Eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337625)

And if all 19,000 people had refused, America would have been interesting again.

But money now is more important than freedom later, amirite?

Blatantly phony act of "security theater" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337663)

Let's see now: We're SO afraid of an imminent threat to nationa security that we must spy on U.S. citizens within the U.S. even in ways many believe are violations of the Constitution...... BUT we are POWERLESS to stop MILLIONS of unidentified people from slipping across our southern border and settling in the U.S. where they are blending-in and our big crony businesses and one of our political parties are absolutelty demanding these millions all be given amnesty and converted into citizens. So much for the "national security" argument...

Just how many middle-easterners with bad motives have snuck into the country over the southern border? Border Patrol calls them OTM's (Other Than Mexicans) and has estimated some very high numbers of these OTM's over the years. While most are from Guatemala, Venezuela, etc a significant number are known to be from the middle-east. Just which actions would more-efficiently secure the country: Securing the border and screening those that cross, or snooping on all Americans with a massive Constitution-busting spynet?

You will know the Feds are serious about security when the border is secure; before that happens, the spying is about anything BUT "national security"

Re:Blatantly phony act of "security theater" (3, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | about 2 months ago | (#47338527)

The political issues concerning the border are just there to distract people like you from the actual reasons we have so many illegal immigrants, which is because the people in power want them employed here. The attention is focused on the border, and not on the number who entered legally but overstayed their visas, and definitely not on the fact that we only pretend to punish the actual source of illegal immigration, the people who employ them, intentionally and because they are cheap labor.

Re:Blatantly phony act of "security theater" (2)

Imrik (148191) | about 2 months ago | (#47341519)

I still think the best way to stop illegal immigration is to give a citizenship to anyone that rats out their employer.

I got a justice department letter (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337723)

I ordered a few pounds of potassium perchlorate and various forms of aluminum power. That is enough to get you a letter from the US Justice Department. A nice letter reminding me that making, possessing, and using explosives are illegal without a permit.

Re:I got a justice department letter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47340285)

Care to share the letter?

Looking for a few good men (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 months ago | (#47337737)

Got one so far. Snowden.
There's gotta be more (???)

Re:Looking for a few good men (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337775)

A few good men a long time gone / Left me here to sing this song.

It is all about the optics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338071)

Seriously. This is all dog and pony show, all for appearance. FBI, CIA, DIA, DEA, DHS, fusion centers, TSA and all other thousands of agencies, both local and federal, have access to all the NSA (and not only NSA) spying, one way or another. If they do not have directly, there are indirect ways to get what is needed. Please keep in mind that all of the NSA own citizen spying contents is also shared with first and second tier "allies", including Israel and, in some instances Saudis. What we are hearing is that there are some underprivileged underdog departments that need to go through the hoops in order to get information, that his next door neighbor, who works for the "government", has freely and this is all done for the "appearance" following the law. Please remember Google and the Prism. NSA has all access all the data traffic that Google is moving via internal spyware. In addition to that there is "Prism". On top of that there are security letters. What a hog wash. Without recognizing, that mere fact of keeping illegally copied data and metadata is violation of the 4th amendment, we can never finish the debate. We do not need the government to be in personal data collection business. There is census every decade. I did not give consent to keep more data than that.

First Amendment Rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47339151)

You have the right of freedom of speech. It's in the Constitution. NOTHING trumps that, most certainly not some bullshit piece of paper that never saw a judge and is backed by the most shady of laws.
Every single one of you 19000 nsl holders should SPEAK and publish those letters like the shitstained toilet paper they are.
It's the only way you're going to get this crap against you, the people, to stop... start calling their bluff instead of kissing their ass.
.

Damn! (2)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47340513)

I thought those were credit card applications. I threw them all out, unopened.

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