The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has never been accused of being particularly discriminating in approving surveillance requests. But the report from Ars Technica that it had approved EVERY request it received in 2015 was disconcerting. As the article states, Reuters reviewed a secret document outlining the figures and learned that all 1,457 surveillance applications last year were granted.
The scope of the surveillance is unknown but vast. It only takes one application for the FISA Court to require telecommunication companies to collect and retain the telephone metadata on all phone calls. Equally appalling, the court approved every one of the 1,379 applications it received in 2014.
Can you say "rubber stamp"?
In a related disquieting revelation, the document said the FBI issued 48,642 National Security Letters in 2015. NSLs are issued to banks, ISPs, insurance companies, doctors and others - they demand personal information. They do not require a judge's signature and come with a gag order that prohibits the recipient from disclosing the NSL. The subpoenas are considered to comport with the Fourth Amendment by the courts because they say the information sought is a business record not protected by the Constitution.
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Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology