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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
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National Security Order|Reporting Broadened

WASHINGTON (CN) - Details about national security orders will soon emerge because of a new filing with the once-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Obama administration said Monday.

Attached to the notice is a letter from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, describing new methods by which five tech giants - Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo - should "report data concerning requests for customer information."

The letter was sent to the general counsels for those companies.

The notice from Justice Department attorney Alex Iftimie allows the companies "to publish the aggregate data at issue in the above-captioned actions relating to any orders issued pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)."

"The director of National Intelligence has declassified the aggregate data consistent with the terms of the attached letter from the deputy attorney general, in the exercise of the Director of National Intelligence's discretion pursuant to Executive Order 13526, § 3.1(c)," Iftimie added. "The government will therefore treat such disclosures as no longer prohibited under any legal provision that would otherwise prohibit the disclosure of classified data, including data relating to FISA surveillance. It is the government's position that the terms outlined in the deputy attorney general's letter define the limits of permissible reporting for the parties and other similarly situated companies."

Iftimie also signed a stipulation to the unopposed dismissal of the actions involving Facebook, Google and the others.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced the filings in a joint statement.

They said "the administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities. Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers."

President Barack Obama's Jan. 17 directive set these changes in motion, Holder and Clapper added.

"While this aggregate data was properly classified until today, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with other departments and agencies, has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification," they wrote.

"Permitting disclosure of this aggregate data resolves an important area of concern to communications providers and the public. In the weeks ahead, additional steps must be taken in order to fully implement the reforms directed by the president."

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