Menu
In case you thought the GCSB were busy bodies...

In case you thought the GCSB were busy bodies...

Civil liberties group says electronic surveillance by US agencies skyrocketing

U.S. law enforcement surveillance of email and other Internet communication has skyrocketed in the last two years, according to data obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The number of so-called pen register and trap-and-trace orders obtained by federal law enforcement agencies has increased 361 percent between 2009 and 2011, the ACLU said. The U.S. Department of Justice released the data to the ACLU after the civil rights group sued the agency under the Freedom of Information Act.

Pen registers capture outgoing data from a surveillance subject, while trap-and-trace orders capture incoming data, including the addresses of email messages who the subject is talking with on instant messages. The two types of surveillance are not supposed to record the contents of conversations.

Including the targets of telephone surveillance, "more people were subjected to pen register and trap-and-trace surveillance in the past two years than in the entire previous decade," Naomi Gilens, a legal assistant with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, wrote in a blog post.

U.S. law enforcement agencies obtained about 250 pen register orders for email and Internet communications in 2009 and about 200 trap-and-trace orders, the ACLU said. In 2011, U.S. agencies received more than 800 of each order.

A DOJ spokesman declined to comment on the ACLU's report.

The ACLU called for the U.S. Congress to require more judicial oversight of pen register and trap-and-trace orders. While wiretap orders need a judge to approve a warrant, pen register and trap-and-trace orders require agencies only to submit a certification to a court saying they seek information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.

In addition, Congress should put more pressure on the DOJ to release the surveillance reports. The DOJ is supposed to release an annual report on the use of these surveillance devices, but the ACLU and other groups have only obtained the reports after Freedom of Information Act requests, or, in this case, a lawsuit, Gilens wrote.

The DOJ did release the 2010 and 2011 reports to Congress, but lawmakers didn't release them to the public, she added.

"Unfortunately, Congress has done nothing at all to inform the public about the federal government's use of these invasive surveillance powers," she wrote. "Rather than publishing the reports online, they appear to have filed them away in an office somewhere on Capitol Hill."


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags international newsACLU

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2019

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2019

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the annual Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months.

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2019
Reseller News hosts alumnae breakfast for Women in ICT Awards

Reseller News hosts alumnae breakfast for Women in ICT Awards

Reseller News hosted its second annual alumnae breakfast for the Women in ICT Awards in New Zealand, designed to showcase the leading female leaders in the industry. Held at The Cordis in Auckland, attendees came together to hear inspiring keynotes and panel discussions, alongside high-level networking among peers. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News hosts alumnae breakfast for Women in ICT Awards
Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019: meet the winners

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019: meet the winners

Reseller News honoured the standout players of the New Zealand channel in front of more than 480 technology leaders in Auckland on 23 October, recognising the achievements of top partners, emerging entrants and innovative start-ups.

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019: meet the winners
Show Comments