A Senate bill published late Monday night includes a new provision that would give the FBI more power to issue secret demands, known as national security letters, to technology, internet, communications, and banking companies for their customers’ information.
The provision, tucked into the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, would explicitly authorize the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” for individuals or entities — though it doesn’t define what that means. The bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.
In the past, the FBI has considered “electronic communication transactional records” to be a broad category of information — including everything from browsing history, email header information, records of online purchases, IP addresses of contacts, and more.
The Justice Department told the FBI in 2008 that it was not authorized to receive this information from companies without a court order, although as The Intercept reported last week, the FBI has continued to demand such data anyway — insisting on a different legal interpretation.