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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentprivacyinternetNational Security AgencyDirector of National Intelligence

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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?