National Security Letters

National Security Letter Timeline

This timeline illustrates the relevant events in the history of National Security Letters:  authority and subsequent legislation, government reports and statements from public officials, press reports on NSLs, and NSL litigation. NSL authority dates back to the 1978 the Right to Financial Privacy Act’s creation of an NSL precursor, but it has expanded dramatically since then. Although the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has issued several reports demonstrating NSL abuse, Congress has yet to pass legislation that would fully address the constitutional shortcomings of the NSL process.

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