Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Secret FBI Subpoenas Scoop Up Personal Data From Scores of Companies

The F.B.I. has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from far more companies than previously disclosed, newly released documents show. The requests, which the F.B.I. says are critical to its counterterrorism efforts, have raised privacy concerns for years but have been associated mainly with tech companies. Now, records show how far beyond Silicon Valley the practice extends — encompassing scores of banks, credit agencies, cellphone carriers and even universities.

The demands can scoop up a variety of information, including usernames, locations, IP addresses and records of purchases. They don’t require a judge’s approval and usually come with a gag order, leaving them shrouded in secrecy. Fewer than 20 entities, most of them tech companies, have ever revealed that they’ve received the subpoenas, known as national security letters.

“This is a pretty potent authority for the government,” said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas who specializes in national security. “The question is: Do we have a right to know when the government is collecting information on us?”

The full story my be found in an article by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries in the New York Times at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/us/data-privacy-fbi.html.

Categories: Legal Affairs

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