Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Obama Administration: Expand FBI National Security Letters


Adam Serwer of

Administration Wants To Expand Reach Of National Security Letters.

Civil libertarians have been trying to add more restrictions to the FBI's National Security Letters since their use exploded after the attacks of September 11th. NSLs, which allow the government to obtain private records from commercial and financial institutions without a warrant as long as they deem them "relevant" to an investigation -- with a gag order that stops companies from mentioning they've received them for good measure. Internal Justice Department reports have found NSLs are subject to widespread abuse. Last year, Sen. Russ Feingold along with some Democrats in the House tried to rein in NSLs by requiring that the FBI show the information is somehow relevant to terrorism or espionage, but they were stymied by members of their own party.
Today, The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration wants Congress to expand the type of data that can be gained through the use of National Security Letters:
The administration wants to add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the "content" of e-mail or other Internet communication.
Brush up on your encryption skills, if you think it will help. I don't. Soon enough, if not already, Bush's Obama's FBI will know anything it wants... with no restrictions and no warrants... about anything you put on the Internet. I, for one, plan on leaving the Internet. I'll find other things to do, things no more liked by the FBI, but perhaps a bit less visible. I've just about had it.


  1. Just when I'm satisfied about something this administration does something like this comes along and makes me shake my head.

    I don't plan on leaving the web - in fact I'm back to posting on <a href="http:/>The Fulcrum</a>. And I don't think you should either, Steve. No matter who's in the chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office, we must continue to stake out our rights against intrusion and erosion.

  2. Sorry about the mangled HTML in my last post, Steve...

  3. The Fulcrum

    Fixed, Charles, but not in-place... Blogger is not that accommodating. The forced move was not without some consequences.

    I'm really glad you're blogging again. I'm about to head over to read your latest. If I end up ditching the blog, it will be with the intention of taking up some other mischief elsewhere. For now, my health being what it is, I don't have a whole lot of latitude for that. :-)

  4. BTW, Charles, I've blogrolled you, under "Fulcrum" ... I don't usually use the "The" preceding a blog's name; don't ask me why.

  5. I'm really tired of this Stalinist crap. Obama is Bush's third term. Anyone who votes for him again deserves what they get.

    Most of what they are asking for isn't even saved by ISPs because it costs money and storage.

    The only way to get a browser history is look at the browser, and mine gets dumped every night.

    I have no idea what they think they are going to do with this information.

    You may have noticed that countries in the Middle East are banning Blackberries. Their problem is that RIM told them flat out that the people who own the individual devices are the only ones with the key to decrypt messages - RIM can't do it because the system wasn't designed for intercept, it was designed to prevent it.

    The FBI should be worrying about getting a working computer system of their own, something they haven't managed to do after more than a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars wasted.

    They keep looking for a "silver bullet" and there isn't one. You conduct investigations by walking and talking. It hasn't changed since Sir Robert Peel organized the London Metropolitan Police Force early in the 19th century.

    More hay and no one to remember they are looking for a needle.



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