The federal government spies on you.
And it operates behind a veil of ignorance.
Despite revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers, many Americans still apparently believe warrantless surveillance only happens to “bad guys,” and they have nothing to worry about because of the “I have nothing to hide” myth.
Americans simply don’t understand the size, scope and invasiveness of the federal surveillance state. That allows the spies to operate unhindered safe behind the pervasive veil of ignorance.
A court filing by the FBI made public earlier this week lifts the curtain and gives us a glimpse into just one corner of the surveillance state – the murky world of national security letters (NSLs). The FBI was compelled to release the documents in an ongoing case involving Nicholas Merrill, founder of Calyx Internet Access. The 11-year-old case stems from Merrill’s refusal to comply with an NSL back in 2004.
According to Reuters, the documents reveal the FBI used NSLs to compel Internet service providers to reveal a wide range of data, including complete browsing histories and records of all online purchases. This all happens without a warrant. In fact, the entire process happens with zero judicial oversight.
Think about that a moment.
Your entire web browsing history.
Do you want somebody – anybody – combing through that information?
National security letters basically function just like warrants, compelling the recipient to reveal specified information. But the FBI issues NSLs itself. Instead of going to a judge and getting…