Tech Companies Fight Back After Years of Being Deluged With Secret FBI Requests
Jenna McLaughlin has an interesting report in The Intercept:
The FBI, the Department of Justice, and technology and Internet companies have been waging a little-known war for years over how much information companies are obligated to hand over about customers during national security investigations—absent a court order.
In early June, when Yahoo disclosed three secret government requests for customer information—called national security letters—one of those requests revealed that the FBI might have been exceeding its authority by asking for email records, such as headers or browsing information, in addition to basic subscriber information.
While the revelation that the FBI kept asking for those records surprises some academics, lawmakers and privacy advocates—national security attorneys and large technology companies have known about the problem for years, and have been arguing with FBI attorneys over what’s allowed and what’s not.
Meanwhile, the FBI has been pushing for a legislative solution to expand the range of information it can get with national security letters; there are currently two bills being discussed that could grant it.
The FBI’s effort has been prompted not by DOJ concerns, but by Silicon Valley companies refusing to share anything beyond the basic subscriber information they believe the statute requires.
Companies, including Facebook, Yahoo, and others interviewed by The Intercept, have refused to supply the FBI with email and browsing records when asked. Facebook officials recognized the issue in 2012 and published the company’s standards for compliance with national security letters—hoping others might take notice. . .