The FBI claims that such data is covered implicitly under current statute, because the applicable law was written years ago and explicitly covers information normally associated with telephone records. This is why the FBI is lobbying Congress to make clear this provision also applies to the digital equivalent.
In response, the largest tech firms including Google, Facebook and Yahoo sent a letter warning Congress they would fight any efforts to rewrite the law, because this expansion of the NSL statute would dramatically expand the ability of the law enforcement agencies to get private users’ information without court oversight.
This marks another fight over a provision in the US law that could dramatically affect how the country conducts terrorism investigations. The FBI used to rely on the controversial NSLs to collect certain types of data quickly from tech firms, as they don’t require a warrant and usually are coupled with a gag order that prevents the recipients from discussing them. Now the FBI complains that cases are getting slowed down because the companies increasingly refuse to cooperate.
The tech firms respond that the gag orders create mistrust and eventual embarrassment if the details are disclosed.
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