Chris Soghoian wrote up the data he obtained under Freedom of Information as to how often the Department of Justice obtained customer account communications data from ISPs without a warrant. Chris writes:
According to an official DOJ report, the use of “emergency”, warrantless requests to ISPs for customer communications content has skyrocketed over 400% in a single year.
The 2009 report (pdf), which I recently obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request (it took DOJ 11 months (pdf) to give me the two-page report), reveals that law enforcement agencies within the Department of Justice sought and obtained communications content for 91 accounts. This number is a significant increase over previous years: 17 accounts in 2008 (pdf), 9 accounts in 2007 (pdf), and 17 accounts in 2006 (pdf).
Read more on Slight Paranoia. As Chris explains, these numbers only scratch the surface as they are only from the DOJ and the DOJ is not the most frequent requester.
Everywhere You Look, They’re Looking
Chris’s commentary is especially timely in view of what is going on in the Senate Intel Committee, who have been trying to shut down Senators’ Wyden and Udall’s attempts to get more transparency about how the government is interpreting provisions of the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act. The understanding is that our government has come up with some interpretation that they believe allows them to engage in domestic surveillance and/or obtain geolocation data on citizens, even though the public’s understanding of these laws would seemingly prohibit such acquisition. An amendment that would have required the DOJ to estimate how many Americans have been surveilled failed by a vote of 7-8, and Senator Wyden has reportedly put a hold on a the FY2012 Intelligence Authorization Act.
The attempts of our government to keep citizens in the dark about how we are being surveilled and how legislation is being interpreted to permit what Congress never intended is despicable. Why are Senators Wyden and Udall the only two really standing up to call attention to this issue and to do something about it?
Where are your legislators on this? Have you called them to tell them that you want them to take a stand, too?