Turns out the telcos aren't the only ones busy complying with law enforcement demands
. From today's Wall Street Journal
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement efforts to secure corporate information about clients and suppliers have reached such levels that some companies have had to create special units that do nothing but deal with these demands, a process often called "subpoena management."
Banks, Internet-service providers and other companies that possess large amounts of data on their customers say that police and intelligence agencies have been increasingly coming to them looking for tidbits of information that could help them stop everything from money launderers to pedophiles and terrorists.
"Corporate counsel that used to see law-enforcement-related requests five times a year are now getting them sometimes dozens of times a day," says Susan Hackett, a senior vice president and top attorney for the Association of Corporate Counsel, which represents the legal departments of leading U.S. companies.
According to the piece, companies generally make an effort to narrow the scope of law enforcement demands. But sometimes they have no choice:
...New powers granted to the government under the Patriot Act mean that Washington can secretly access people's records from businesses without having to provide any notification or seek a judge's permission. Companies are in fact prohibited by the law from disclosing that they had received such requests.
The Justice Department last month reported that the FBI last year issued 9,200 administrative subpoenas known as National Security Letters, seeking information on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks, credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval. The records are supposed to be about people in terrorism and espionage investigations, but the FBI is not required to show how they are connected to any terrorism case.
Ah, the National Security Letter, that beloved instrument of law enforcement. As Justin noted
before, though that 9,200 (it's actually 9,254) number is frequently cited, Bart Gellman of The Washington Post
found that as many as 30,000
NSLs had been issued.