Friday, July 30, 2010

FBI seeks easier access to web records

Source: Press TV§ionid=3510203

The White House is trying to make it easier for the FBI to ask companies for records of an individual's internet activities without a court order.

President Barack Obama's administration has asked the US Congress to amend the statute, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, in the fiscal year that begins in October.

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration wants to add "electronic communication transactional records" to a list of items that the law says the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may demand without a judge's approval.

"Electronic communication transactional records" include information like the addresses to which an internet user sends e-mails; the times and dates e-mails were sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history.

Obtaining such records now requires a court order. But once the law is amended, only a national security letter (NSL) can authorize the FBI agents to compel internet service providers to turn over an individual's electronic records if they believe the information is relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

"Our biggest concern is that an expanded NSL power might be used to obtain internet search queries and web histories detailing every website visited and every file downloaded," the Washington Post quoted Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as saying.

The move is considered by critics as another example of the Obama administration retreating from campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security.

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