US to release annual figures on spying orders and people affected

US legislators, rights groups and Internet companies have asked for transparency of government surveillance

The U.S. government has decided to release data annually on its secret spy orders and the number of people affected by them, the country's intelligence chief said Thursday.

The government will release the total number of orders issued during the prior 12-month period, and the number of targets affected by the orders, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said in a statement on "IC on the record," the DNI's page on Tumblr.

The disclosures will be broken down under certain categories such as data requests under the business records provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and National Security Letters issued by the government, he added.

The move follows demands by lawmakers, rights groups and Internet companies that the government should release more information on the secret collection of data from telephone and Internet companies by the National Security Agency.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed through newspapers certain documents that suggested that the government had real-time access to content on servers of some Internet companies, under a surveillance program called Prism. The companies have denied their participation in the NSA program. The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. also published in June a copy of an order to Verizon by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, D.C., which required Verizon to provide call records or "telephony metadata" of its customers to the NSA on an ongoing daily basis.

Most of these data requests have been in the form of "gag orders," which prohibit the recipients of data request orders from discussing them in public. Microsoft and Google have asked FISC to allow them to disclose aggregate numbers on FISA and related data requests by the government, but the U.S. Department of Justice has postponed replying to the pleas six times so far.

Internet companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Apple and Microsoft have so far released aggregate figures for data requests from the government, but didn't say how many were related to national security. The companies said they could not break out requests under FISA, because those figures were classified.(

"Our ability to discuss these activities is limited by our need to protect intelligence sources and methods," Clapper said in the statement.

He described FISA and national security letters as an "important part of our effort to keep the nation and its citizens safe." Disclosing more detailed information about how they are used and to whom they are directed can help enemies avoid detection, he added.

Following criticism of the NSA surveillance program, President Barack Obama said earlier this month that his administration will appoint an independent board to review the country's surveillance programs, and also add a privacy advocate to defend privacy in the FISA court when agencies ask the court for new surveillance orders. Obama also said he will work with the U.S. Congress to limit data collection by the NSA under the Patriot Act.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags National Security AgencysecuritygovernmentDirector of National Intelligenceinternetprivacy

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 Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?