National Security Letters: Proposed Amendments in the 111th Congress [October 28, 2009]   [open pdf - 341KB]

"Five federal statutes authorize various intelligence agencies to demand, through National Security Letters (NSLs), certain customer information from communications providers, financial institutions, and consumer credit reporting agencies, under the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the National Security Act, and Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The USA PATRIOT Act expanded NSL authority. Later reports of the Department of Justice Inspector General indicated that (1) the FBI considered the expanded authority very useful; (2) after expansion the number of NSLs requests increased dramatically; (3) the number of requests relating to Americans increased substantially; and (4) FBI use of NSL authority had sometimes failed to comply with statutory, Attorney General, or FBI policies. […] Several USA PATRIOT Act provisions are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2009. The NSL statutory provisions are not among them. Nevertheless, several bills have been introduced which would amend and in some cases repeal NSL authority. […] In addition to sunset and repeal, the bills raise issues involving amendment of nondisclosure requirements; the promulgation of standards to minimize capturing, using, and holding (long term) NSL generated information, continued periodic IG audits and reports, and limitations on statutory provisions thought by some to permit circumvention of NSL statutory requirements. This report includes a chart comparing the provisions of the bills and current law. It also reprints the text of the five NSL statutes as they now appear and as they appeared prior to amendment by the USA PATRIOT Act (to which form they would return under some of the bills)."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40887
Public Domain
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