Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: NSL, National Security Letters.

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    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    NSL, National Security Letters.

    NSL, National Security Letters.

    National security letters (NSL) are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more.

    NSLs have been used since the 1980s, but the Patriot Act expanded the kinds of records that could be obtained with an NSL. They do not require court approval, and come with a built-in lifetime gag order. With an NSL, the FBI need merely assert that the information is “relevant” to an investigation, and anyone who gets a national security letter is prohibited from disclosing that they’ve received the request.

    The FBI’s use of NSLs has been sharply criticized. In 2007, a Justice Department Inspector General audit found that the FBI, which issued almost 200,000 NSLs between 2003 and 2006, had abused its authority and misused NSLs.

    The inspector general found that the FBI evaded limits on (and sometimes illegally issued) NSLs to obtain phone, e-mail and financial information on American citizens, and under-reported the use of NSLs to Congress.

    About 60 percent of a sample of the FBI’s NSLs did not conform to Justice Department rules, and another 22 percent possibly violated the statute because they made improper requests of businesses or involved unauthorized collections of information.

    The audit also criticized the FBI for improperly tracking its use of NSLs.

    Subsequently, the number of NSLs issued in 2007 dramatically dropped from 49,000 to 16,000.


    NSL's allow for rapid follow up on terrorist investigative leads.
    It allows an FBI agent to get info / Intel right now, that might 
    otherwise take days or weeks through court channels.

    The context shouldn't be forgotten. We are at war with
    an enemy that if they can get nuclear materials will use

    But there are cases of abuse, and the FBI isn't well known
    for penalizing abusers, rather the focus and rewards are 
    on results.

    They can with a faxed letter get all the URLs someone
    surfs from their IPS. There are simple ways to stop ISPs
    from even seeing where someone surfs.

    They can get a list of all phone numbers someone calls
    or calls to that person.

    NSL have a mulitiude of uses for fast tracking leads
    and turning suspects into perps.

    And the FBI seems to be doing a very good job
    of seperating the shaft from the wheat.

    I'm sure our activities have generated NSLs.
    Just to check on our activities.
    We have run all our operations in ways to make
    them transparent to the Feds, but secure from
    the plotting of Shaitân (Satan the false Moujahedeen ).

    So far they seem able to seperate research from
    personal interests. By placing actions into the

    We have spotted moles in our ranks, both Feds 
    and terrorist, and dealt with the latter and
    let the former ride.

    NSL sadly are a invasion of privacy, but a nessary
    and we hope temporary inconvience based on the 
    current context.

    Blatent Abuses should be stopped and punished.

    And at some point in the future I suspect
    there will be an accounting.

    So far the FBI have been very sucessful at
    stopping terrorist actions in the USA.

    al Qaeda's agenda requires surveillance
    but at what cost to privacy?



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