Recipient Of FBI National Security Letter Can Finally Reveal Details, 11 Years Later
from the and-it's-just-as-messed-up-as-expected dept
The October ruling said that the entire gag order needed to be lifted, and that Merrill should be able to finally reveal the actual NSL -- and that has now happened. You can see the ridiculously broad list of information that was demanded from Merrill.
As Marcy Wheeler notes, the depth of information that the NSL was getting willy nilly with no oversight at all through NSLs is rather astounding.
Merrill is now able to reveal that the FBI believes it can force online companies to turn over the following information simply by sending an NSL demanding it: an individual’s complete web browsing history; the IP addresses of everyone a person has corresponded with; and records of all online purchases. The FBI also claims authority to obtain cell-site location information with an NSL, which effectively turns a cell phone into a location tracking device. In court filings, the FBI said that at some point it stopped gathering location data as a matter of policy, but that it could secretly choose to resume the practice under existing authority.
“For more than a decade, the FBI has been demanding extremely sensitive personal information about private citizens just by issuing letters to online companies like mine,” said Mr. Merrill. “The FBI has interpreted its NSL authority to encompass the websites we read, the web searches we conduct, the people we contact, and the places we go. This kind of data reveals the most intimate details of our lives, including our political activities, religious affiliations, private relationships, and even our private thoughts and beliefs,” he explained.
This is what the government means when it does “connection” chaining: gluing together every fragment of your online life together to see it all.The ACLU has also helpfully created a graphic showing the gradual revealing of this NSL, with each part of the legal fight unmasking a bit more over the course of this decade-plus battle: