Who's watching you surf?

Wednesday, 9 July 2003, 2:49 PM EST

Privacy watchdog groups and members of Congress are making grim guesses about how often the FBI peeks into records of U.S. citizens' Internet activity and phone calls.

But because the Department of Justice has blocked much of the content of its reports, the watchdogs can't get enough information to draw conclusions.

The Justice Department does release the number of surveillance orders approved by a closed court established in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The FISA court, which has jurisdiction over noncitizen criminal suspects, is composed of 11 federal district judges who rotate duties every seven years.

According to the FISA court's own records, spying orders approved by the secret court jumped 30 percent between 2001 and 2002. However, federal and state court orders approving surveillance dropped by 6 percent, say recently released government reports.

[ Read more ]




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