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11 June, 2016

New intelligence bill gives FBI more secret surveillance power

A Senate bill published late Monday night includes a new provision that would give the FBI more power to issue secret demands, known as national security letters, to technology, internet, communications, and banking companies for their customers’ information.

The provision, tucked into the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, would explicitly authorize the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” for individuals or entities — though it doesn’t define what that means. The bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

In the past, the FBI has considered “electronic communication transactional records” to be a broad category of information — including everything from browsing history, email header information, records of online purchases, IP addresses of contacts, and more.

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