'Secret subpoenas issued by the FBI for personal data go far deeper than previously known, according to new documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, according to the New York Times.
The agency says the sweeping requests are crucial to counterterrorism efforts - however the new records reveal that the FBI requests go far beyond Silicon Valley; "encompassing scores of banks, credit agencies, cellphone carriers and even universities," according to the report.
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. -New York Times
"This is a pretty potent authority for the government," said University of Texas law professor, Stephen Vladeck. "The question is: Do we have a right to know when the government is collecting information on us?"
According to the documents - which contain information covering about 750 of the subpoenas "representing a small but telling fraction of the half-million issued since 2001" - credit agencies Experian, TransUnion and Equifax received a large number of national security letters. Also included were Western Union and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Equifax, Experian and AT&T received the most termination letters: more than 50 each. TransUnion, T-Mobile and Verizon each received more than 40. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft got more than 20 apiece. Over 60 companies received just one. -NYT
Aside from these new names - we've long known about tech companies receiving national security letters, including Verizon, AT&T, Google and Facebook "which have acknowledged receiving the letters in the past" per the Times. '
Read more: Secret FBI Subpoenas For Personal Data Go Far Beyond Previously Known