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FBI in new push to probe web browser history – report

RT | June 7, 2016

The FBI hopes to amend surveillance laws as early as this year, giving the agency explicit authority to access a personal Internet browser history by simply issuing an administrative “national security letter,” the Washington Post reports.

The new legislation being readied would empower the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” bypassing judges’ approval with the help of a “national security letter” (NSL) which could be issued by the special agent in charge of a bureau field office, the paper says.

The FBI chief made a specific point that gaining this access through changing legislation is topping agency’s priorities for the year 2016, since the inability to get the necessary data “affects our work in a very, very big and practical way,” James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee in February.

The Obama administration already tried to adopt a similar amendment some six years ago, but had to retreat after fierce opposition from the IT industry and privacy advocates.

Incidentally, Comey believes the current state of things is thanks to a “scrivener’s error” in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, enabling internet providers and other technical companies to refuse providing certain personal information to the agency, citing infringement of American citizens’ privacy.

The ECPA is “needlessly hamstringing our counterintelligence and counterterrorism efforts,” Comey stressed.

The FBI also insists that a broader update of the ECPA should set electronic communication transactional records equal to telephone billing records.

The personal web ‘transactional records’ in question will allegedly include protocol addresses and the exact time a person spends on a web resource, but not content like search queries and email texts.

A coalition of privacy and civil society groups united with internet industry organizations to oppose the legal initiative, warning that the amendment would “dramatically expand the ability of the FBI to get sensitive information about users’ online activities without oversight.”

Security letters requesting data usually come with a gag order forbidding the internet providers from making the fact of the FBI request public.

The FBI has issued over 300,000 such requests within the past 10 years and in most cases they were accompanied by gag orders, estimated American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani.

“That’s the perfect storm of more information gathered, less transparency and no accountability,” Guliani said.

June 7, 2016 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | ,

2 Comments »

  1. What, if any, audit procedures are in place to ensure that The FBI, the CIA, and the NSA do not breach U.S. Laws in the conduct of their day today operations? Given the secrecy of their operations, how does anyone know what rules or more importantly, LAWS are being broken? James Clapper from the NSA lied in testimony to the US Congress and got away with it scot free. How do the people of the USA know whether their rights are being violated, or is the USA now a Police State?

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | June 7, 2016 | Reply

  2. FBI, CIA covered-up 9-11, JFK assassination, RFK assassination, Oklahoma City bombing, Boston bombing and much more. The surveillance trend will continue unless a critical mass of people get on their list and take a stand. Banging pots and pans for 10 minutes every Sunday standing on our front porches seems in order to let the world know that Americans are awakening. Give them a job they cannot do: place millions of us “on the list”.

    Comment by rediscover911com | June 7, 2016 | Reply


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