Secrecy News

Counterintelligence Surveillance Under FISA Grew in 2011

In 2011, the US Government submitted 1,745 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authorization to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), according to a new annual report to Congress. Of these, 1,676 included requests for authority for perform electronic surveillance, the report said.

That compares to 1,579 such applications in 2010 (including 1,511 for electronic surveillance).

As is usually the case, the FIS Court did not deny any electronic surveillance applications in whole or in part last year, though it made modifications to 30 of them.

The new report says that the government filed 205 applications for business records (including “tangible things”) for foreign intelligence purposes last year, compared to 96 in the previous year.

But the number of “national security letters” (a type of administrative subpoena) declined last year. In 2011, the FBI requested 16,511 national security letters pertaining to 7,201 U.S. persons, the new report said, compared to the 2010 total of 24,287 letter requests concerning 14,212 U.S. persons.

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