FBI Data Mining Reached Beyond Initial Targets
The F.B.I. cast a much wider net in its terrorism investigations than it has previously acknowledged by relying on telecommunications companies to analyze phone-call patterns of the associates of Americans who had come under suspicion, according to newly obtained bureau records.
The requests for such data showed up a dozen times, using nearly identical language, in records from one six-month period in 2005 obtained by a nonprofit advocacy group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that it brought against the government. The F.B.I. recently turned over 2,500 pages of documents to the group. The boilerplate language suggests the requests may have been used in many of more than 700 emergency or “exigent” national security letters. Earlier this year, the bureau banned the use of the exigent letters because they had never been authorized by law.