FBI expansion of surveillance powers meets obstacle

A senator placed a hold on legislation that has provisions to expand the scope of NSLs

A move in the US Senate to provide enhanced surveillance powers to the FBI through the use of National Security Letters met a hurdle Monday after Senator Ron Wyden placed a hold on the 2017 Intelligence Authorization bill over the controversial provisions.

Wyden’s hold is a a measure by which a senator or group of senators can prevent a motion from reaching a vote.

Tech companies and industry and civil rights groups are opposed to what is seen as a wider push by the Senate to increase the scope of the NSLs, which would allow the government to collect Internet records such as browsing history, email metadata, and location information through administrative orders and without court approval.

The 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act includes provisions to expand warrantless government surveillance and takes aim at a valuable independent oversight board, according to Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, who last month voted against the bill in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The current version of the intelligence authorization bill contains a provision in section 803 that would authorize individual FBI field offices to demand Americans’ email and Internet records simply by issuing a NSL, without court oversight, Wyden said in a statement while announcing the hold in the Senate.

The FBI is currently allowed to issue NSLs to collect phone records and financial records, without the approval of a judge, and in 2013 the President’s surveillance review group recommended reforming this authority, to require court oversight such requests, Wyden said.

Last week, separate legislation to give the government enhanced powers for NSLs did not pass, though senators have indicated that they would have another shot at it. The amendment was included as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

Wyden said he hoped to be able to work with colleagues to remove the controversial provisions prior to their consideration of the bill by the full Senate. “Until then I will object to the proposal to pass this bill by unanimous consent,” he added.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?