DNI to annually release telecom national security info

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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President Obama’s head of the U.S. intelligence community announced that the U.S. government would annually release information about legal orders regarding national security given to the nation’s telecommunication’s providers.

Following a domestic and global uproar over a report in the Guardian in June about a classified National Security Agency phone records collection program, Obama ordered Clapper to declassify information about the program in order to address possible public misunderstandings about the programs.

On Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that “the DNI has determined, with the concurrence of the IC, that going forward the IC will publicly release, on an annual basis, aggregate information concerning compulsory legal process under certain national security authorities.”

The information released would take the form of the total numbers “issued during the prior twelve-month period, and the number of targets affected by these orders.”

The various legal orders identified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. intelligence community, include: “FISA orders based on probable cause (Titles I and III of FISA, and sections 703 and 704);” “Section 702 of FISA;” and “FISA Business Records (Title V of FISA).”

Clapper also said that information about “FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace ( Title IV of FISA)” and  “National Security Letters issued pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 3414(a)(5), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681u(a) and (b), 15 U.S.C. § 1681v, and 18 U.S.C. § 2709” would be released.

Clapper called the move “consistent” with the directive from Obama “and in the interest of increased transparency.” Clapper announced the move on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Tumblr page on Thursday.

The first article published in June by the Guardian regarding the documents obtained by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden dealt with an ongoing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  (FISC) court order for Verizon Business Network (VBN).

The order mandated VBN to turn over all domestic phone records for a three month period, affecting millions of innocent Americans and legal-U.S. residents, and placed a gag order on the company.

Subsequent reporting by the Wall Street Journal would reveal that AT&T and Sprint were also affected by similar court orders.

Clapper declassified further information in July revealing that the order had been renewed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The domestic and global uproar over the revelations about the programs adversely affected the business of U.S. Internet service providers and cloud providers.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation estimated in a recent report that U.S. cloud providers could lose as much as $35 billion over the Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s counter-terrorism surveillance programs.

Major U.S. companies, trade associations, and non-profit organizations petitioned the U.S. government to release a surveillance transparency report as part of a campaign to restore user trust in U.S. Internet companies.

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