Obama Moves to Boost FBI Access to Internet Records

Critics say move is fed power grab
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2010 4:19 AM CDT
The seal of the FBI hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquarters.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Obama administration is trying to make it easier for the FBI to obtain records of people's Internet usage without a court order. Adding "electronic communication transactional records" to the list of items the FBI can demand without court approval would allow the bureau to access the email addresses of correspondents of investigated targets, as well as the times and dates emails are received—but not the actual contents of email.

Federal officials say the move is merely to clear up ambiguity in the law, but privacy advocates and lawyers for Internet firms call it a power grab, the Washington Post reports. "You're bringing a big category of data—records reflecting who someone is communicating with in the digital world, Web browsing history and potentially location information—outside of judicial review," warned a former Justice Department lawyer who now works for Internet companies..

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