New Delhi, Dec 3: You never know what the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into. After allegations of snooping into online accounts, now a secret letter to an internet entrepreneur gives a scary picture of how much the FBI was able to look into.
It began in the year 2004 when Nicholas Merrill, the CEO of a New York-based Internet service provider called Calyx received a letter a National Security Letter from the FBI. The letter stated that the FBI can request web browsing history and also e-commerce history without a warrant.
What was also mentioned in the letter was that the recipient of the letter was even barred from speaking about it- not even with members of his family or loved ones.
Now after a long legal battle which lasted nearly 11 years, a US court had called aspects of the NSL absurd. While speaking with the Washington Post, Merrill said that he had spent over a quarter of his life fighting to get his right to speak about this issue.For more than a decade, the FBI has been demanding extremely sensitive information about private citizens from thousands of companies, he also said.
What is an NSL:
The FBI has been in the news after allegations of snooping were levelled against it. IT was even accused of snooping into accounts of leaders from across the world. Whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden have exposed the FBI on numerous occasions for allegations of snooping.
The FBI however claimed that the same was being done in national interest, but the counter argument by many was that the agency was being too intrusive.
In this regard the FBI would send out a National Security Letter or NSL to internet firms seeking out information. The FBI has sent out over a 1,000 letters every year in which it sought for information about browsing history. However this letter always maintained that the recipient was not permitted to speak about it even with his loved ones.
The letter forbids recipients from disclosing their existence or the content of the letters to lawyers or any other outside parties. They demand that recipients turn over information such as Internet browsing history or telephone histories to federal investigators.
However with Merrill defying the letter and deciding to fight a 11 year old legal battle, the contents of the NSL are out now in public.