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Category Archives: E-Records

US DOJ IG Report – Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders

FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders: Assessment of Progress in Implementing Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007 through 2009, Oversight and Review Division Report 15-05. May 2015. Redacted.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced today the release of a public version of its most recent report examining the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) use of the investigative authority granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act to obtain business records. The OIG provided a classified version of this report to Congress and to DOJ leadership in February 2015. The report reviews the FBI’s use of Section 215 authority from 2007 through 2009, and also examines the DOJ’s and FBI’s progress in addressing the
recommendations contained in the OIG’s 2008 report on the FBI’s use of Section 215. This is the OIG’s third report since 2007 on the FBI’s use of Section 215 authority.As described in the public version of the report released today, the OIG found that from 2007through 2009 the DOJ, on behalf of the FBI, submitted 51 Section 215 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court), all of which were approved. The report notes that the scope of business records sought under Section 215 greatly expanded in response to legislative changes, technological advances, and strategic choices, and that Section 215 orders have been used in investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI investigation. We concluded that these developments require continued and significant oversight by appropriate entities, including the FISA Court and the DOJ’s National Security Division. We also concluded that the DOJ and the FBI have addressed the three recommendations from our 2008 report, but that with respect to one of the recommendations the DOJ should have met its statutory obligation considerably earlier than it did…Section 215 allows the FBI to seek an order from the FISA Court to obtain “any tangible thing,”including books, records, and other items, from anybusiness, organization, or entity, provided the item or items are for an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorismor clandestine intelligence activities. The report publicly released today describes how legislative and technological changes, including society’s increased use of the Internet, have expanded the quality and quantity of electronic information available through the use of Section 215 authority. We found that the FBI has broadened the scope of the materials it has sought, and that the materials produced in response to Section 215 orders range from hard copy reproductions of business ledgers and receipts to gigabytes of metadata and other electronic information. Moreover, Section 215 authority is not limited to requesting information related to the known subjects of specific underlying investigations, and we found that the authority has been used in investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI investigation.”

Inspector General Warns: Significant Oversight of Section 215 Required

EPIC – “The DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General released a report this month detailing the FBI’s use of Section 215 and warning that “significant oversight” is required. The Inspector General describes the FBI’s expanding use of 215 to collect electronic information in bulk and criticized the agency for taking seven years to develop minimizationContinue Reading

Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security and Surveillance

“Two new Pew Research Center surveys explore [the issues of privacy and surveillance] and place them in the wider context of the tracking and profiling that occurs in commercial arenas. The surveys find that Americans feel privacy is important in their daily lives in a number of essential ways. Yet, they have a pervasive sense thatContinue Reading

Most Agencies Falling Short on Mandate for Online Records

“Nearly 20 years after Congress passed the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments (E-FOIA), only 40 percent of agencies have followed the law’s instruction for systematic posting of records released through FOIA in their electronic reading rooms, according to a new FOIA Audit released today by the National Security Archive at www.nsarchive.org to mark SunshineContinue Reading

EFF Case Analysis: Appeals Court Rules NSA Phone Records Dragnet is Illegal

Andrew Crocker – “We now have the first decision from a court of appeals on the NSA’s mass surveillance program involving bulk collection of telephone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, and it’s a doozy. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion in ACLU v. Clapper holding thatContinue Reading

Using consumer health data: Some considerations for companies

“As the FTC staff discussed at a seminar about consumer generated and controlled health data, people are turning to apps, devices, and websites to manage their own health information. Yesterday we talked about the contours of the compliance landscape. Especially when it comes to the sensitive subject of health data, one key takeaway is theContinue Reading

White House Office of Administration Not Subject to FOIA Regulations

Removal of Published Rules To Align Published Policy with Current Sources of Law – A Rule by the Administration Office, Executive Office of the President on 03/17/2015. Final rule. “The Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration, is removing regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations related to the status of records created andContinue Reading

Detekt – free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of commercial surveillance spyware

Via FastCoExit: “Spyware like FinFisher contributes to a multi-billion dollar business. But until last week, activists had few ways to defend themselves, aside from the well-placed bit of duct tape over the computer camera and rigorous digital hygiene practices. That’s why Amnesty International, Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation rolled out aContinue Reading

5 ways to keep your data safe right now

Christopher Soghoian is a TED Fellow, and the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he monitors the intersection of federal surveillance and citizen’s rights. Before joining the ACLU, he was the first-ever technologist for the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, where he worked on investigations of Facebook, Twitter,Continue Reading

StingRay surveillance device intercepts a cellphone signals, capture texts, calls, emails and other data

NYT – A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret – “A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology… The technology goes by various names,Continue Reading

Report – Federal Agencies Still Struggle to Process Public Information Requests in a Timely, Consistent Way

“The Center for Effective Government released its second annual access to information scorecard today, grading the 15 key agencies that receive the most public information requests. The findings: eight out of the 15 agencies improved their overall grades from last year, but none earned an overall A grade. While the number of agencies with overallContinue Reading

Wikimeida Foundation joined by civil rights groups in lawsuit against NSA surveillance

The Guardian – “The Wikimedia Foundation, Amnesty International and a host of civil rights groups sued the National Security Agency and the US Department of Justice on Tuesday challenging the mass surveillance programme uncovered by whistleblower Edward Snowden. “We’re filing suit today on behalf of our readers and editors everywhere,” said Jimmy Wales, founder ofContinue Reading